Taking Money from Taboo to Talkable with Michelle Arpin Begina | UYGW033

On this week’s episode of Unleashing YOUR Great Work, advisor, author, and public speaker Michelle Arpin Begina guides us through one of THE MOST taboo topics most people fear the most: money.

Why is it so difficult to talk about money?

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, Michelle is no stranger to overcoming many trials and tribulations with the thoughts and struggles of money. She takes us on a powerful journey through her own personal relationship with money and how it’s shaped her into finding her own Great Work.

Michelle brings an insightful awareness to the fact that money isn’t just about how much you make, how much you save, or even how much you spend. It’s about the root of where the idea of money lives and where it comes from. If we are told money isn’t important, do we spend more? What happens when we make more money? How do we gather the courage to ask for more money without feeling guilty? Michelle answers all of these questions, and so much more! Listen in as Michelle shows us why we should be more open to discussing the topic of money and how easy it is to talk about once we finally gather the courage to do so.

Join us as we discuss: 

02:24 Anytime we know how to do something, it always becomes easier. 

03:06 What is it about specifically talking about money that is important?

04:14 A story of someone who’s feeling weird talking about money, and what opens up for them when they learn how to talk about money.

07:18 Common about money.

08:14 Why do we have such a hard time talking about money?

11:26 Why would we feel offended to be talking to somebody who sees money or perceives money in a way that’s different from us?

13:54 What can someone do to start learning how to talk about money?

18:51 We were internalizing what we’re hearing from the outside world.

20:09 Michelle’s parents’ relationship with money and how she personally overcame it.

26:17 Michelle’s struggles in her late teens, in her 20s.

31:25 Marrying love of people with love of numbers. 

33:42 How Michelle helped New Jersey become the first state to include financial psychology as part of their standards.

 

About the Guest:

If you still think of wealth as purely a numbers game, you haven’t met Michelle Arpin Begina. An Advisor, Author, and Speaker, Michelle has taken her own money story and alchemized it into a passion for financial literacy that marries the science of wealth management with the art of financial therapy. 

Michelle grew up airplane, sports car, and yacht poor – surrounded by the outward signs of wealth but plagued by the insecurity of knowing it was a sham, and her family was never more than a bounced check away from disaster. It turned out to be the perfect starting point for a career dedicated to revolutionizing the way we relate to money (yes, it’s a relationship!) and the way financial advisors work with their clients. 

Often called the Erin Brockovich of financial literacy, Michelle challenges us to ditch the notion that it only lives on Wall Street and find it where it truly resides: at the intersection of knowledge, skills, and emotional composure.

 

Website: https://michelleab.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellearpinbeginacfp/

TedTalk: https://lnkd.in/dHUcPCP3 

About the Host:

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, podcaster, author of Great Work, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk: Three Reasons You Aren’t Doing What You Say You Will Do has received more than a million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and TED Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global. Amanda lives in New Jersey with her husband, two adorable kids, and a remarkable newfiepoo named Ruthie. She spends her days educating future teachers, coaching accidental entrepreneurs, and speaking about how to make progress on Great Work to colleges and corporate teams. To book Dr. Crowell to speak or inquire about coaching, check out amandacrowell.com or email amanda@amandacrowell.com

Website: amandacrowell.com

Book: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Work-Amanda-J-Crowell/dp/1737374196

Podcast: amandacrowell.com/podcast

IG: https://www.instagram.com/aj_crowell/

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-amanda-crowell-51188130/

 

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Transcript
Michelle Arpin Begina:

in my late teens in my 20s First the struggle was, you know, literally finding out standing on a dock of a marina, where a brand new yacht was in the water and my father was informing me that oops, I don't have the money to send you to college.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, author of the book, great work and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we're here asking the big questions. What is your great work? How do you find it? And why does it matter whether we do it? What does it actually take to do more of your great work without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them? Stay tuned for answers to these questions, and so much more.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Welcome everybody to unleashing your great work. If you still think of wealth as a purely a numbers game, then you haven't met Michelle Arpan Begina. She's an advisor and author and a speaker, Michelle has taken her own money story, and alchemize it into a passion for financial literacy that marries the science of wealth management. With the art of financial therapy. Michelle grew up airplane sports car and yacht poor, surrounded by outward signs of wealth but plagued by the insecurity of knowing it was a sham, and that her family was never more than a bounced check away from disaster. I am so very excited to have Michelle on Virgina on the podcast today. Welcome to the podcast. Michelle.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Thanks, Amanda. I am thrilled to be here. You know, I am a huge fan of yours.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

And I am a fan of yours. So Michelle, we are going to start where we always start, which is the question tell us just a little bit about your great work.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

I intuited my great work for a long time before I was ever able to articulate it. And it took me a while to clarify what it is. But what it is, is that I want to teach people how to talk about money, literally till we're literally not taught how to talk about it. And I think talking about money is easy once we know how because anything. Anytime we know how to do something, it always becomes easier. Right? Funny story recently, I caught up with a friend and send to her over the last year actually, as I was preparing for our talk I was doing, I felt like I received this big download and went like oh, okay, like that's what this is all about. I'm supposed to teach people how to talk about money. And her response was, I knew that about you from the first moment that I met you.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

So you were surprised by what everyone else already knew. Caught up. So what is it about specifically talking about money that feels so important?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Well, I think, you know, money infiltrates and as a part of everything in our life. So it's not just how much we make, or how much we're saving. It's how we're in relationship with our money ourselves, how we're in relationship with other people with their money, background, their own money relationship. It affects how we perceive ourselves, it affects how we think others perceive us or they don't. So it's really, you know, it's a part of everything that we do on so many different levels that and when we don't give it we don't give it the mental attention a lot of times, and we certainly don't give it any sort of sort of verbal attention.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

So, you know, it's it's one thing to feel like, you know, in control of your money and calm about your money in your own mind, but what you're saying really is that we have to open our mouths and talk to other people about it. So can you give us an example like maybe a story of like, how, how it goes currently, with people feeling weird about talking about money, and how what what opens up for them when they learn how to talk about money, or an example you can share?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah, someone I hope we all probably can relate to which is about negotiating for more money, of salary job or, you know, clients that we might be working with or what have you. So I coached a woman recently who shared with me that she was having a hard time going to her boss to ask for a race. And we talked a little bit about her background. We didn't have to go very far to find this. She shared with me that she was raised by a single mom who was able make ends meet. But it was really, really tough. And she described her mom is being exceptionally hardworking. And their community was one where there were resources that would help families, if they reached out for that help. Her mother never did. Her mother perceived that as taking a handout, and what was actually stopping this woman I was talking from, from going and having a conversation about being paid fairly. And being paid for her value was she was perceiving that conversation as if she was going and asking for a handout.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

I see. And that's the way it is sort of in the default mode the way you know, in the we don't talk about money, it's crass to talk about money, or it's rude, or it's overstepping. That's where she ends up. But she's like, won't talk about it. And she ends up not getting what she needs, or even what's sort of her rightful do. So what happened for her if she knew how to talk about money.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

So what had happened for her is that she had made meaning out of asking for money and asking for a handout, that being the same thing. Because speaking with her, she realized, you know, what she added to the team, what her value was, she knew what fair compensation would be, you know, but that was all of the rational thinking. What actually broke her through was realizing that she had joined two concepts at the hip, that didn't belong together as an adult. And once you realize that, she was able to step in and have those conversations. Wow.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

That's huge. And you know, what this reminds me of is, I've recently seen your TED Talk, Michelle Arpan, Virgina has a very cool TED Talk, that I will 100% link to, in the show notes. And you in there you talk about, I think you talked about sort of the three stages of talking about money. And I feel like if I'm remembering correctly, the the second stage is talking to somebody who is more of an expert than you are like getting actual help from people. And it sounds like talking to you, was that experience of having somebody who could see it differently, you could point things out to you. And then she was able to go out into the world and talk to the person who she actually needed to talk to about it.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yes, yes. It wasn't without preparation, she still had to face some other fears, like a common one is, what is this other person gonna think of me? Right? Am I being greedy? Am I being fill in the blank? So she had to deal with all of her own fears of what other the person might think or how they might respond to her first. And then she had to get really clear on what she wanted? And how like what language she was going to actually use to have the conversation, how she'd set it up how she'd asked for the meeting. And then when she did have that meeting, what exactly she would say so she still had some work to do. But I do think the breakthrough moment for her was exactly as you said, someone else with a different set of eyes and a different point of view, just being able to see something that she was blind to which we all have those spots.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah. You know, it's interesting, because I find myself wanting to ask, like, why is it so hard to talk about money? And on the other hand, in my own cell phone think? Well, it's self evident, like, it's so baked into our programming, and the way that we're raised and so certainly, that's one reason why is it like, we're all kind of hamstrung, we're kind of straitjacketed about it because you just don't do it. Right. But it sounds like so but why? I mean, why is this so difficult not just to talk about, but to break the habit of not talking?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

I don't know exactly why I have a few theories. I think one of them has to do with being seen. So I've never quite understood the fear of success kind of thing people talk about, I understand fear of failure a little bit more. But what I don't hear a lot of people talk about is actually the fear of being seen. And I think that's especially prevalent with money, whether it's a fear of being judged for how you think about money, the role that money plays in your life, how much you want to make, whether you declare I want to be rich, I mean, if you say that out loud, you're guaranteed to get the wrath of humanity down on you. So I think it's all of that. So yes, baked in is definitely the right way to put it. But I think where it really comes down to is we were told certain things. We absorb those things without ever questioning and we may or may not be living our life according to what those beliefs were. And if we're not, we can feel out of integrity maybe with our family, that we're doing it differently. Or we might be perceived by others a certain way. And it doesn't mean you're you're, you have a financial house of cards situation, it could just mean that the reality of your situation is different than what people are perceiving. And you just don't want to own up to that you don't want to speak truth to that.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

So that's interesting. So you're, it sounds like what you're saying is, when anytime sound like what you were describing, it's like you could be What did you say the wrath of humanity is brought down on you? Just like, I feel like the wrath of humanity could be brought down on you, if you if you like, admit to having less money, you know, because then it's like, well, you're not a hard enough worker. And don't blame me. And this, you know, I don't know what people say. But you can also have the I mean, we were talking about the wrath of humanity being brought down on you because you are financially stable or wealthy or, and it's interesting that it seems like it's not really about actually the situation as it is, as much as it is whether your situation matches who you're talking to.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah, very much.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

So what is it about? Like, why would we feel so offended? To be talking to somebody who sees money or has money or perceives money in a way that's different from us? Because it does feel very visceral? Why, like, what is going on here?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah, well, I think, first is everyone has an opinion about what you should do with your money. So if you make a lot of money, then you might start hearing advice about, well, if you have a lot of money, then it's your duty, or your responsibility to try to give it away. For example, if you don't have enough, you brought up a good example, then you're probably not working hard enough. So somewhere, people are just going to point a finger and say you're wrong about something. And I want you to do money, the way that they think they would do money, if they had a lot of money. Right, which is a whole nother you know, we always think that we know what we would do in certain circumstances until we're actually in those circumstances, and then we really find out what we would. Yeah. So true. And we have I think we have a bit of a love hate relationship with money, you know, especially in this country, which is so ironic, right? Capitalist capitalist country in the world. And yet, we have such a difficult time with talking about this thing called money that we all are responsible for in this country, for making our way, right, we don't have the safety nets that other countries do. And we have to create it for ourselves. Yeah. Which is a little bit, you know, a little ironic that we have such a hard time talking about this.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Right? We we made it part, like being able to talk about money, being able to negotiate being able to, like navigate this vast expanse that, I mean, unless you were raised by like a banker and a financial manager, that you probably don't really understand exactly how it works. And yet, we're all we're all locked in an inability to talk about it. And if you open your mouth, and at any point, someone could have an opinion, like you were talking about, you know, everyone's gonna have an opinion about it. And so you just don't want to be seen. So this feels like quite a large problem that you have dedicated your life to. So what do you do? What can someone do to actually start learning how to talk about money?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah. Well, I think the first thing to clarify is probably that when I say talking about money, I don't mean the shouting from the rooftops, I'm gonna go, you know, talk to every person I encounter about money. I'm very specific about being able to have conversations with the people that matter the most. And the people that you're co creating your financial future with, those are the people right, so that could be your your family, your friends, your boss, the person who is going to give you the money for your, your new business venture, your banker, you know, whoever and the stages of doing this really, I think stem not just from the first stage, which is knowing how you're talking to yourself. Which you know, and I say this in my TED Talk, most of us are talking to ourselves like jerks.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Right an example of talking to you, so like a jerk about money.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Um, so I'm bad with money. Instead, say, Michelle, you're a badass with money. Right? Because it's much more effective for us to talk in the third person as if we were talking to another person, because that actually gives us the equivalent of perspective that we would get in real life if we were having an open conversation with another person, right? So it's learning to switch that. But it's, it's really getting clear, though, on what you are thinking, not just how you're talking to yourself, but what you're actually thinking, because I think most people, this is an area of their life that they don't deeply examine. You know, it's, it's more that, okay, I'm going to get educated, or I'm going to get the skills to go on and start a company or go to work, or whatever we do, and it's all about earning an income, and we all kind of default to the rest of just take care of itself, like I'll earn enough, and I'll be able to pay back my student loans and save up enough for a down payment on a house. And, and and, and that's all great. And that works for a lot of people. But that's a little bit more of focusing on the actions and the doing arounds, money versus the Bing. And I think it's just as important to focus on that. So that's just as easy as taking a bit of a trip down memory lane and thinking about who were the most influential people in your life as you grew up around money? What did they teach you? What did they teach you that you want to take on for yourself? You know, what did you see that they did that worked? What didn't work? And really kind of examining? What were the flash points? What are the big moments? What did I make that mean? When I was a kid, what did I hear? That's a big one. So one of my favorite stories to tell was of somebody that I worked with. He was an investment banker, his first job out of college. And after five years of working 20 hour days, making really big money, he had $1,000 to his name. Oh, my God.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah, that's not a lot.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Nope. He was really frustrated about that. And he started thinking back to his childhood, and as now an adult, he re heard his father's voice, which is to always say, money isn't important. And the bells went off for him. No wonder I don't have any money. Because I've internalized my father's belief that money isn't important. So if money isn't important, I'm gonna go spend it all. He has since changed that to money isn't everything, but it is important. And when he when he made that shift, which was an intentional shift of his he then he ultimately actually get out of investment banking pursued a little bit more of a creative career and is literally has 10s of millions of dollars now. Nice.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah, that's great. Yeah. It's very interesting, because like one of the theorists I love the most struck about a theorist right now, is the guy ski. And one of the he talks about, like, how do we help? There's a there's like a whole debate in the world of psychology about whether language comes before thought or thought becomes before language, right? Like ASCII says that language comes before thought that we actually hear other people talking. And as we're surrounded by greater and greater complexity of language, we are able to that facilitates greater and greater complexity of thought, which is in itself, very interesting. But one of the interesting things that comes to mind and what you're talking about is that we if what we're doing, which is, like ASCII says is that we're internalizing what we hear, then we're not examining it, we're not critically like, questioning it. So we absorb that, and we were internalizing what we're hearing from the outside world. And if what we're hearing is, don't talk about money, money isn't important than it is no wonder that we arrive at adulthood as a culture, not able to really communicate with each other. And in marriages, you know, that I mean, I guess the number one reason marriages break up is because of money problems. And like, that makes sense. Because if you can't, if what you've heard is like Do not talk about money, money will work itself out. And if it doesn't, actually, usually, especially, you have different kinds of spending habits and stuff.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

That's fascinating. So is this why is this so interesting to you? Like, what is it about this that has gotten your has become your great work? Is it personally relevant to you in some way?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yes. You already know me, Amanda, you knew the answer to that question.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

I did well, and I saw your amazing TED Talk. So a little bit, I know a little but tell our listeners.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

So I will and then I want to go back To the the idea that you just heard about language before thought, yeah. So yes, I know there's something about this because my parents were entrepreneurs. And when I was a kid, as they were starting out, they struggled to make ends meet in the, in the, you know, proto typical type type of way that they just didn't have any money. And as they struggled to get their business off the ground, what little came in was really for the necessities, right? Food, shelter, clothing. And as their business became more successful, and they earned more money, their struggles got larger. So it was no longer about just making the rent and making sure the kids had shoes and food. It became about other things. And for me growing up, my parents enmeshed me in the middle of their money relationship, when they independently had, and the one that they had with one another, so their fights were epic. And I usually was involved, usually as a sounding board to relieve somebody stress inappropriately like, TMI way before, way ahead of my time, right didn't do any of that kind of stuff as a kid. But what it made me keenly aware of was just how emotionally connected we are with our money. The kind of going back to what you said about, you know, language before thought. I felt everything before I understood it. Yeah, and couldn't even articulate it or even think about it, I just felt what that felt like. So I'm wondering if, you know, feeling comes before language to begin with. But what ended up happening with my parents is that they, they eventually evolved into this place where they would save to spend their money. And part of that category did not include actually saving for the sake of spending like the rainy day fund, or let's get prepared for the future type of planning and saving and investing. And I, because my parents were becoming more and more successful, they would receive very large account payable songs, they did a lot of they were in the Moving and Storage business, they did a lot of work with the government who would just sandbag their payments, and they might pay them six months or years worth of work at a shot. And we'd end up with a new sports car, or a private airplane, or eventually a yacht, that was meant the cash was meant for my college tuition. The only way my parents afforded to do that was because they would come into these lump sums. And they always had their eye on a big ticket purchase, which sounds like really finding glamorous, and there were a few moments where it was funny, glamorous, however, it's really not fun when your parents can't afford groceries or health insurance, right? Or they've sent you to a private school at their insistence, and then they're struggling to make that tuition or on and on. So even though we had all the trappings of wealth, they really hadn't evolved very far, from those early days of my mom, with the shoebox and the envelopes doling out, you know, money for the different things that we had to pay for when they first started their business that actually never really changed, despite what it looked like from the outside.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Wow. So that was your starting place. And since then, you have done a ton of work. It sounds mean, I've seen your TED talk, I know you to arrive at a different place. So what was that like? Like? How, what did it take to go from having sort of ingested or absorbed all of that language and expectations around money and the feeling? You know, because that's another week, when you talk about feeling like money makes you feel sick to your stomach? Is it like a is a real Association, right? If every time people were talking about money that were yelling, then why would you want to talk about money? So how did you personally overcome all of that? Yeah.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Interestingly, even though they fought about money, it actually didn't make me not want to talk about it. Because I just saw it as if we actually talked about it, we could stop arguing about it, and we can maybe come up with some solutions was really my thinking. I was very driven. I think by a couple of reasons. One, I always looked at my parents despite all their financial shenanigans as at their highest and best They were great sense of humor, they worked really hard. They were really honest people, and they just were a hot mess when it came to their money. In fact, I would even consider them to be successful people just not in this one arena. But I remember kind of sort of having the odd body experience of sitting back and watching these two people that I loved and thinking to myself really young, if you could to could just get out of your own way. You have all the ingredients for this to go from ho hum, or worse than that to hot damn.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Hot damn, maybe that will be here pullquote.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

And I was I was powerless to help them, right? I wasn't a coach, I was a kid. And I would have desperately, I desperately wanted to have been able to do something that would have helped them pull out of that, and have a better relationship with money, better family life as a result of it, etc, etc. So that's what got me interested in. And there also was a little personal vow that I made to myself that I never said out loud to them, which was this is not going to be me. Because the amount of stress and financial insecurity that all of that created was something that I wanted to get away from as soon as possible. Yeah. So how did I do that? I actually struggled. Big time, in my late teens. In my 20s. First the struggle was, you know, literally finding out standing on the dock standing on a dock of a marina, where a brand new yacht was in the water, and my father was informing me that oops, I don't have the money to send you to college now. So absorbing that trauma, and that betrayal.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

So you're you're on the standing on a dock of a marina and your dad what pulls it in with a new boat? Is this your first time seeing the boat? Like how did this happen? What do you mean that like, what is like, oh, yeah, I know, I told you, I would pay for college. But I got this boat instead. Like, how did this what happened?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

This is great. This is a crazy story. Um, I always say there's a lot of people that had to put themselves through night school to get their education. Yeah, I've yet to meet the person that had to do it for the reason that I had to do it. Okay, that said, it was the spring of my senior year of high school. My parents out of the blue just decided to buy a yacht. And they were coming into a large lump sum of money, right, again, from work. And it literally was, like, my, my father just came home one day and was like, let's get a yacht. And my mom was like, Okay. And we had a young man, I don't know, a week, like, that's really how it happened. And that's how it always happen with these big ticket items. My father would get this idea. And then before we know, we were flying around our private airplane. So that's kind of how it went down was that on a whim, he got this idea. They bought the yachts. And I drove to the marina on a Saturday morning, it was there was a few weeks after I had graduated from college, high school. I'm sorry, I graduated from high school. The school I was going to go to was still as yet undecided at that point. So I went to the marina to go meet my parents can't go see this new yacht. Without knowing that as I stood there, and started talking to my father about college and the money for college, that he was going to look me in the eyes and shrug your shoulders and say, I don't have the money to send you. Ah, wow. They failed to inform me that the money that we're spending on the yacht was the money that would have been used for my college fund. And they failed to inform me talking about speaking about money, after being promised that they would support me financially with this. Yeah. When they decided to buy their yacht, I guess is when they changed their minds about giving the me the money to go. And they never let me know that.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Wow. Wow. Right. So it's not like you were like, obviously, the only thing that's ever acceptable is for parents to pay for their kids to go to college, but instead, they had said they would and then they change their mind. Correct. Because they wanted a yacht. Yeah. Wow. That's,

Michelle Arpin Begina:

yeah, there was and I, you know, the only expectation I ever had about or where the expectation came that they would pay for college came from them, right, because they

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

totally said they would. Right. The only thing they ever said about money was that they would pay for your college. Wow, interesting. Yeah. Though I, that's a terrible story, I'm sorry. When. So there you are as like this little kid just wishing that you could help these people. Because you, I think what you described as seeing them, I always saw them as their greatest and best versions of themselves. I feel like you just described how you see kind of all people, like as a person who knows you I feel seen like that, but you know, yeah, love. And so I feel like you have, you have become the person you had hoped to be. Because you do help people. Now tell us a little bit about what you do now, because you really are kind of doing exactly what you had hoped to do.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah, thank you. I don't know that I could have defined it back then. I just knew. Again, I just intuited that my, my interests were in money, right, all my first jobs were around had something to do with money. As a matter of fact, the very first job that I got after walking off the dock at that Marina, because when that happened, my brain, my brain didn't my heart didn't really register what happened, I close that down, but my brain went berserk with how it costs a lot of money, I don't have any money, how am I gonna get money, Alright, I gotta get a job. And I got into action like that. And within a couple of months, I was working at a bank. And without the branch manager knowing anything about my background, as part of my onboarding as a brand new employee, she asked me if I wanted to take a banking course at the local community college. And the bank would reimburse me if I pass the course, I would have to front the money and then get reimbursed. And she described tuition reimbursement. And that was the way forward for me. So I went from, you know, banking into thinking I wanted to be an accountant into financial services, once I learned what a certified financial planner does, which the simplistic way I looked at it back then, which is still the way I look at it today, is it's really marrying love of people with love of numbers. And I have always loved both of those things. So when I figured out that that was a career, I decided I didn't want to be a CPA, I wanted to be a CFP. And it evolved into creating my own practice. So everything that I'm talking about, we're talking about here today, I've been doing this in practice with my wealth management clients for 25 years, it's only been the last couple of years, I'd say five years or so that I actually told my story, the boat story, quote, unquote, for the first time, to where I've really find to what is my great work, and I'm now really putting that type of work out for a larger audience.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Fascinating. And along the way, in addition to being a successful Wealth Management advisor, you also while I'm trying to remember the exact details of this, you were able to get financial literacy added to New Jersey's K 12 Learning Standards. Tell us about that. Because that you always sort of gloss over that. And I think like, whoa, wait a second, I know how hard that is to do. And you did it. So like, tell us just a little bit about that too, because that's a big part of it. I feel like

Michelle Arpin Begina:

so I call something like that, where we're gonna talk about a Be the change, you want to see kind of a moment. So I was, this is going back about four years ago, I was reading a book because I'm always has might have my nose in a book. And when I read my brain goes on tangents. So I'll read something. And I'll end off on a tree limb from the trunk of the book and the tree limb that I ended up on that particular morning. Something made me go and look at the New Jersey financial literacy standards. So we're both New Jersey residents i had i It was not the first time I had read them. Except it was the first time that I realized that behavioral economics and financial psychology were not already being taught to Kindergarteners through 12th graders in the state of New Jersey. So New Jersey had always had already required Finland for college or sorry for high school graduation. Okay, but they were not. They were not also teaching kind of the the inside baseball of money, the psychology of it, and the biological and behavioral biases that we have that are not just relevant to financial decisions that are relevant to decisions in any part of our life. So I sat there and thought, Hmm, that's interesting. I wonder how I would changed the standards. And then my fingers started, you know, hitting the keyboard on Well, who's in charge at the State Board of Education. And I ultimately found that person and by the time that I was able to talk with him, I already had a proposal prepared a couple of sample lesson plans, etc. Michelle comes prepared, right, and, and then luck intervenes. So it just so happens in New Jersey, we review our learning standards for every subject every five years. So I happen to catch it right when they were forming those committees, nice to get invited to be on the committee, and went back and forth to our state capitol, countless numbers of times over about the course of a year. And as probably most school systems, once the learning standards are, have been vetted, they go through a public review process, and then ultimately get ratified by the State Board of Education that all transpired from sitting in that coffee shop. But that initial idea to the New Jersey Board of Ed ratifying it probably took about 18 months, and New Jersey became the first state to include financial psychology as part of their standards. Wow, really, last year?

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

That had to feel really good. Early last year.

Michelle Arpin Begina:It's September of:Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Wow, that's amazing. Thanks. It's a good segue to a question I always like to ask, which is, you know, doing this kind of work is challenging, you know, you've described, it sort of started in a hard place, and you had to really think about your own personal experiences, you know, there's challenges, it can be difficult, but it also sounds like it brings you a lot of joy. So I want to just hear, like, what is the joy in this?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

So great question. I think the joy for me is, is really in two places, I think it's the state of flow that I get in when I'm creating. And I think it's, it's a little hard to describe, but the great work that I feel it has a hold of me as much as I have a hold of it. So it's so much a part of myself that it, I just feel like I'm so authentic when I'm in it, and that I don't want to give that feeling up. Like that's really, it's what it does for me. And then when I think about, you know, if I just think back to who I was at, you know, 10 to 15, and 17 and 25. The things that I know that I've learned, you know, either professionally, personally, academically, that I wish I would have known then are things that I can share for somebody else not having to say that later in their life. That just makes me happy.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

I like it. So we've heard where you've come from, tell us where you're headed. You have tell us about your TED talk is that I think came out fairly recently, in the last couple of months, I would guess. Right? Yes. And that was a big accomplishment. So what's what's next for you?

Michelle Arpin Begina:

I'm working on a book. Oh, yeah, that's, that's the next big job. It's a big job. It's actually been out of all the things I've done. It's definitely one of the most challenging, I would say right up there with building my wealth management practice, right. No one had my Yeah, I mean, no one handed me my clients. I had to go get them challenging. It's I think it's challenging in that. You know, I first had to overcome all of the stuff of who I think I am to talk on this topic. I'm not a good writer. Why would I even put myself through trying to become a good writer to where I don't talk to myself that way any more. So overcoming those kinds of thoughts, and then it really gets into, you know, it's not so much the quantity of what I rate. It's more than that. Even when I find the perfect word, or a cool phrase, or I've actually written a sentence where I'm like, that's exactly what was in my heart in mind, and I got it on paper. That process is really gratifying. And then also just learning more about how I learned because I feel like writing and learning to write has just been a different art form than I've participated in, in the past. So things like community has been a really wonderful part of what I've been up to, right, whether it's writing a speech that I'm going to deliver or writing this book now being in community with other people who are trying to do some more things. And it's not always because I'm reading my stuff to them, sometimes it is, but a lot of times, it's just knowing that I'm not the only one in the trenches, trying to do something really hard. And that's a pretty big area for me, because I've pretty much been a solo practitioner my whole life. And I mean, even when I go back to, you know, standing on the dock of that Marina, when I walked off that dock, I never told a soul about it. I never asked for help. I was 100% going to figure that out myself. And then I went into a field that no one hands you anything. So you might go through a training program. But then there's the phone and the telephone book and go find your clients. I didn't have a natural market. I don't come from I come from a fake wealthy family. So it didn't really help me, right. So everything that I really had done until this place in my life was as a solo. And now I am I've really learned how to how to be in partnership, how to be in community, and it's become safe for me to be seen is really, really has been the big, big breakthrough.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Wow, what a gift.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah. Peace, joy.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Joy. Yeah. And you get to do cool things with awesome people. In addition to the community with them, you get to participate when they do awesome things to be wonderful.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Yeah, I marvel at you know, the last five years, the different types of people that I've met, and how many more people I know, in different areas, different ways than I ever did. is pretty remarkable.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah, that's great. So you have a book coming out. So the next time you're on this podcast, it'll probably be once your book is out, when you can tell us all about it. Be Amazing.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

I like that thought, Amanda.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

I like it too. Well, why don't you wrap us up by telling us how people can get to learn more about you? How can they get a taste of what you do or get a chance to talk to you? How can they do that.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

So the simplest best places to reach me is to connect with me on LinkedIn. Or to come find me on my website, which is Michelle with two L's AB Michelle ab.com. And I actually have a guide there that people can download right off the homepage.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah, what's the guide about

Michelle Arpin Begina:

the guide is something I call the success formula God. So I'm a very big believer. And again, this comes from having witnesses, witness my parents that how you do one thing is not how you do everything. And we can look to any part of our life that we've been successful. We can dissect that a little bit and then map it on to our decision making around money, because we really do know how to do money.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Yeah, we just have to borrow from the other places that we know how songs are fascinating, okay, so they can get the success formula guide on your website. And then great, awesome, and they can go and listen to your TED Talk. And they can go listen to my TED Talk, which I highly recommend. Like she really really liked it. I actually saw it in real life. The truth is I saw her give it in real life and then when it came out, I instantly watched it and thumbs up it and commented because it's that good. So I will link to it in the show notes as long with her website and her profile on LinkedIn. So get to know Michelle, she is a kind giving person. Follow along with her and her story as she revolutionizes how Americans talk about money. Thanks for coming on the podcast Michelle.

Michelle Arpin Begina:

Thanks for having me, Amanda.


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