I started "So Money" with Farnoosh Torabi in 2015 in my apartment in Brooklyn after having my first child. I wanted to continue to make an impact in my work as a financial expert, but needed a practical way to go about it, since I was at home with my son most days. With podcasting, I'd found the solution, since you all you need is a quiet space, strong Wi-Fi, and a microphone to get started.
I'd spent the previous three years hosting a popular video series on how to budget and save on gas and groceries. I saw the podcast as a way to have deeper conversations about money with people whose work I admired.
I'm proud to say that the podcast has now surpassed 12 million downloads and has an audience that spans 200 countries. Listeners have kindly shared how much the interviews have affected their lives, from helping them earn more money to starting businesses.
The show has deeply transformed my personal and professional life as well. The stories my guests share with me have both reinforced some of my beliefs about work and money and provided me with the confidence to live my financial life to the fullest.
Earlier this year, I released my 1,000th episode. Below are five of my favorite lessons and teachings, from over five years of "So Money."
Video by Courtney Stith
Busy Philipps is perhaps best known for starring in hit TV shows like "Dawson's Creek" and "Cougar Town," but she is also a fierce advocate for women's rights. On my podcast, she revealed a personal experience in her career when she asked for more money to perform on a television series because the offer was below her normal pay rate.
While she ultimately didn't get the role, she didn't regret standing up for herself. Being willing to walk away from an offer, as hard as it is, is the ultimate test of your financial independence, she explained.
"The show got picked up and was on the air for many years, but I have never regretted it, not for a second," said Philipps. "I think it always would have stuck with me. ... I wouldn't have been able to let it go because they didn't value me enough. I think that there is something to knowing your worth."
We don't always get to choose the people with whom we work, but if you ever have that opportunity, choose to work with "elegant" people, said Kari Skogland, an award-winning director of shows including "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Walking Dead."
She shared this advice, which was passed down to her by a mentor, with me on my podcast.
"I thought that was a beautiful way of putting how to choose and look at a project. Is it worth the time and effort that you're going to put into it? If you are investing into a project that is just for the money, the money ends up oddly not being enough," she said. "The job is never going to get past what it is; you can't pull it out of its terrible place; you're working with people that make you feel bad. I think every time I've done that I have regretted it and thought. 'I just wasted some very precious time.'"
When Jeff Steinmann, author of "How to Quit Working," appeared on my podcast, my life changed. He opened my eyes to the fact that how we make money is limitless. Most of us limit ourselves to making money from what we do, what we studied in school, or have listed on our business card or LinkedIn profile. But there are also ways to make money from what you know, which may or may not have anything to do with what you do.
"One of the things that we underestimate is the value of our knowledge and our experience," said Steinmann.
Think about things that you have accomplished, whether that's anything from raising great kids to having gotten yourself through college debt-free. Starting examining your life through the lens of, "What are some of the things in life that I've figured out, that I can really help people with?" Start making that list and discover all the new ways you can share your advice and strategies to earn money.
I took Steinmann's advice and ran with it. Since that interview, I began leading a workshop supporting entrepreneurs with their book projects and another event that helps people understand the best practices for pitching ideas to the media.
These revenue streams have little to do with my work as a financial author, but these are skills I've developed over many years and teachings I knew would be in demand based on the advice people were already seeking from me.
Would you believe that beloved former "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn didn't get paid for the first two seasons of the hit series? He didn't ask, so he didn't receive. "I wasn't paid at all and I didn't know that people were paid for reality television," he candidly shared.
It wasn't until later during a chance encounter with an agent that he realized he'd been misled. "I was at a GLAAD Media Awards dinner in Los Angeles and this gentleman came up to me and introduced himself and he asked me, 'Who represents you?' I said 'No one.' He said, 'You have no representation?' I said, 'Well, why would I need representation?" He said, 'Contracts, payments.' I said, 'The only payment I got is from Parsons School of Design and no one needs to negotiate that and it's not like I'm getting paid for ['Project Runway']." And he said, 'They're not paying you?' I said, 'No, it's reality television.' He said, 'We need to talk.'"
Gunn's story reinforces my favorite saying: "You don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate."
Video by Courtney Stith
On "So Money," guests and I have talked at length about the need to become financially empowered. In other words, feeling confident, knowing your worth, and having a healthy money mindset.
But guest Lindsay Goldwert, financial journalist and author of "Bow Down," told me that she doesn't really love that term. She feels like it falls short of how we, especially women, should be thinking about money.
Rather than seeking empowerment, she argued we should be aiming for financial power. Power can sound more "aggressive" and off-putting than empowerment, but we need to be willing to step into our power to improve our lives and the lives of others.
"I just have trouble with that word [empowerment], because to me it's like yoga mats. Empowerment is journal covers. [The word] has become very watered down. It used to mean something very political and now it can mean something that you see on a Post-It. When I think of power, I think — I want what men have," she said.
This conversation stopped me in my tracks and now I consciously use the term financial power because I feel it's a more accurate expression of what I truly wish for everyone: I want more than just for people to feel good about their finances. I want everyone to have ownership of their financial moves, the ability to take action and control.
Farnoosh Torabi is the host of the award-winning podcast "So Money" and author of several books, including her latest "When She Makes More." She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
More from Grow: