I am a firm believer that adversity can either make us or break us,
and that it’s our choice whether we allow ourselves to be made or
broken. In 1981, I got to make that choice.
After 15 years of marriage I was divorced, with no alimony or child
support, and needed to take care of my two children and myself, all on
my own. I was living in Orange, CT, at the time and decided it would
be a good idea to move back “home” to Southeastern Connecticut.
I was having The Day sent to me and saw an ad for a
“sales with management potential” position with a financial services
company. I had never sold anything and had no intention of ever doing
so, but I had been in management most of my working life. So, I
answered the ad telling them just that, and stated that if they wanted a
good manager, to give me a call, which they did.
During the interview we agreed that to be a good manager, it was
imperative that I have experience in the position of the people I would
eventually be managing. I agreed to take the position but only if I
could be a manager within a year. I told myself that even if the job
didn’t work out, it would be worth taking for the financial education I
And so I sold my house in Orange and moved myself and my children 70 miles away to Waterford to start a new life.
Ultimately, I wanted to start my own business, even though I knew
it would be difficult. I wanted the flexibility, the ability to earn a
living and support my family, and to build a career, all at the same
Having never owned a mutual fund, certificate of deposit or any
other investment, I knew nothing about investments or the financial
planning process. Because my oldest daughter would, in three years,
be ready for college, I needed to get my education “up to par”
quickly. I studied hard to pass the extensive federal and state
licensing exams and then worked on building my financial planning and
asset management business while learning “the tools of the trade.”
After a few months of working long, hard hours, the “draw” I was
taking for income (money to be paid back to the company as soon as I
earned it) grew to more than $4,000. I was upset with this and called
the man who hired me. I told him that I was no quitter, but that
there was no way I was going down with a sinking ship. I had never in
my life worked so hard and ended up owing a company money. Something
was definitely wrong with this picture! He said that because I was
very good at the business, I would soon get a big paycheck to wipe out
the debt. I said, “I don’t want a big pay check. I want a regular
steady paycheck that I can count on each week.”
My next check was over $7,000. I paid back what I owed and had
money left over. I decided this would be the last time I would be in
that financial position. I would work hard to build my business
quickly and ethically. My long-term reputation has always been very
important to me.
How did I do it? I got up early to get the kids off to school,
then me immediately off to work. Then I was home to get them off the
bus. After an early dinner and making sure homework was done, I went
back to work. Then I came home again to spend some quality time with
the kids and get them off to bed. Then I worked at home until my
bedtime. Fortunately I did not require a lot of sleep!
Having systems in place to help things flow well in the business
was crucial. Multi-tasking was a requirement. I lived by the mantra
that “I only touch things once.” If I was any less efficient, I lost
time that could have been spent with my kids.
Marketing was a major focus. I learned early on that getting in
front of one person at a time would not build business as quickly as I
needed. I started teaching adult education classes, speaking publicly
whenever possible, and worked hard on media relations. I soon found
myself on both radio and television and in print on average once a
month for about 20 years.
Knowing that I was responsible for my children’s welfare gave me
strength. I needed to be a role model. I needed to be organized,
determined, and to genuinely care about myself, my children, and
clients. This was a strong driver for me.
I learned to manage raising a family on my own and to build a
successful business from scratch at the same time. With over $200
million in assets under management and approximately 1,200 clients, I
decided to sell my business in 2007 and am now a national speaker and
paid consultant to top financial advisors across the country.