Uncensored Money: Ask Mel Anything – The Importance of Trusting Your Gut
Melissa Browne: Ex-Accountant, Ex-Financial Advisor, Ex-Working Till I Drop, Now Serial Entrepreneur & Author, Financial Wellness Advocate, Living a Life by Design | 27/09/2023
In the ‘Ask Mel Anything’ series, Mel answers your questions in the hope you realise you are not alone and that it helps to increase your financial literacy and confidence.
In this Ask Mel Anything episode, Mel shares a mistake she recently made in her business and why it’s so important to develop a data-based gut, and trust it.
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So today I want to talk about the importance of trusting your gut and intuition. And these are going to be short solo podcasts over the next few weeks while Lawsie's away and I've grabbed the mic. So some of them are just going to be me riffing about different parts of finance. Some of them are going to be me answering your questions or talking to things that I've seen.
But this is one that I really want to talk about because I think for many of us, we have a gut that we have manufactured and that we trust when it comes to so many things, when it comes to relationships when it comes to situations that just don't feel safe. And yet when it comes to our money or our business, often we haven't developed that gut or we don't listen to that gut enough.
And one of my mentors, Karen James, talks about developing a data-based gut. And I think that's a really important thing to understand where it's having that gut feel, but also looking to the numbers and going, okay, so this is backed up as well. I'm not just, I haven't just received a hot stock and I'm going, Oh yes, my gut tells me this is going to make it big.
This is actually backed up by numbers. And the reason I want to talk about intuition and gut today is because I made a really big mistake over the last month. And I'm going to talk about it today because the reason I want to share this mistake is because I believe that too many people look at those that are further ahead than them. And when it comes to business and when it comes to money, I suspect that I'm further ahead than where some of you want to be. And it's really easy to look at those people like myself and think, you know what? She's just so got it all together. I wish that I was able to have that sort of success, but you don't see the scrappiness that's underneath it.
And you certainly don't see the mistakes and missteps. So I want to share a big one that I made and I made it when it came to the launch of the last round of the My Financial Adulting Plan.
So I want to set the scene. So over the last 12 months, I've just been incredibly time-poor and my background is accounting and my background is financial advice. So being a financial advisor and whilst I was one of those that was a left-hander. And I swapped to a right-hander growing up. So I do have that creative side to me. And I believe part of it is because I activate the left and the right side of my brain through being left and right-hander. So I write I'm musical, there's a lot of things that I am creative in.
Yet, because I didn't study marketing at school, it's an area where I just feel really Like I'm limping in it. And I compare myself to other people and go, Oh, wow, you're really doing it better than me. And that's despite the fact that I know I have incredible ideas. Often I'll go, I'll follow through with them for a while and then maybe not push them through to their final end.
But I don't back myself when it comes to my ability to implement a great, or to come up with great ideas. I don't back my own creativity. So what I did is I hired a marketing consultant for this round and she came, she was looked very shiny and great and I thought I'm just going to pay you some money to come up with a few campaigns for me and to help us to run them and to bring that to life.
And I've been told by a number of people over the last, I don't know, 12 months that I'm not relatable. And these are not by many people. I want to say it's a very small pool. However, they're very loud voices and every time someone says that I always think, really? And this marketing consultant, one of the ideas she had, and we really had only a very short period of time, but one of the ideas she had was common objections and essentially making me more relatable.
So when she pitched it, it was like, You know, Mel's in linen, Mel's relaxed and then we see her going about her weekend. She talked about renting basically a farm or a country cottage, me being outside in linens and dressing down and, you know, being relatable. And I looked at it and went, That is not me. Like, that is not me.
And yet, because of these voices that I do trust, that I have listened to, that consistently tell me that you're not necessarily relatable. And I get it. I am child free. I'm financially independent. I love dressing up. So I get the people look across at me and maybe go, you know what? I can't really relate to her. But what they don't see is I'm a Western Sydney bogan. I came back from less than nothing after a stupid financial decision in my early thirties. I grew up in a violent, inconsistent house. I suffered an incredible trauma when I was a teenager and that relatable piece really stings.
But, we didn't have a lot of time and... Because this is something that I'd heard before, I'm like, fine, let's just lean into that. And it just felt like an itchy jacket the entire time. And I remember to be honest, I remember getting off that call and bursting into tears and going, but I'm not relatable. I know that I'm not. And I've chosen not to be with the choices I've made in my life. And I don't regret those choices and I'm so annoyed and upset by this relatability piece. It's funny the things that really trip us up, right? And for me, this has really been both an itchy jacket and a bit of an Achilles heel for me with people saying this to me and as I said, it's a really small number of people, but you know how those voices get amplified because they're the ones that you listen to.
So we decided to go down this route of fine, let's make me more relatable. However, I was like, there is so much that I'm not going to do. I'm not going to rent a farmhouse. I'm not an outdoor person. I'm not wearing linen. You're not going to see a scrap of activewear on me. It was kind of like, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not.
And there was a whole stack of stuff that came into play from contractors that were wildly expensive and so much more , but we, because it ended up being such a short period of time, I felt really pressured to do something. I felt really pressured to make this choice and to commit to it.
And of course, over the filming, it just felt like it just consistently felt even less me and even more problematic. And when I finally received the first lot of footage, I just, my heart sank. I just looked at it and went, this is not me. This is not right. I can't have this go out into the world.
And I went to the marketing consultant. She's going, Oh no, it's fabulous. It's fabulous. But of course it wasn't. And I ended up pulling the pin on her. And look, I pulled in a good friend who knows me, who's also a marketing strategist. And she just looked at it and went, Mel, you're a cat and that's okay.
She said, there's no point trying to make you be a dog. And what she was trying to say is, I don't love people, as in, I'm an introvert, I'm super introverted, I am not touchy feely, I'm not warm necessarily so I am not your bounding dog who's excited and puppy-like, I'm the exact opposite.
And Keiran said to me, you're a cat and that's okay, cats also play with balls and do silly things and cat people love them. Dog people, not so much, but you're never going to get a dog person to like a cat and that's okay. And I wished, I wish, that I'd talked to her before we'd even started.
Because that's what my gut said to me was that I'm not for everyone. I know that some of you won't relate to me And that's okay. I can show you who I am through so much. I show you who I am with my me through my memes, through my sense of humour. I show you who I am with my willingness to be vulnerable so often. I show you through who I am, with the bloopers that I do and the silliness that I have.
But I can't change inherently who I am and have you relate to something that's just not me. And that took a lot of stress, energy, time and money for me to figure out. And I, and it's really interesting, isn't it? Cause I remember getting so angry at myself that I'd allowed myself to get into that position where I felt completely taken advantage of financially. But also where I felt like I wasn't true to myself and I let myself be taken down a road that I know was wrong for me, simply because I didn't back myself and I didn't trust myself. And the reason I tell this story is because I know for so many people you look across and you think they've got it together, they've got it all together all the time. They don't make missteps and I'm here to tell you that we absofreakinglutely do. I make missteps in my finances, I make missteps in my business, I make missteps in my relationship with my food and my exercise. We are fallible and we're human. Why would we think that that wouldn't imbue every part of our life? But what I want to encourage you to do and what I've done is I have Kieran Flanagan, who I mentioned, I grabbed her. I said, right, we need to meet after launch is over to make a plan because she is someone who gets me. She's someone who knows me. She's someone who I trust.
So my first thing for you is if you're in a position where you feel a little bit pushed around, where you feel Like you want to trust your intuition and your gut instinct, but you need to create that database gut. I want to encourage you to get a mentor or to get someone that you can learn from. So I'm going to pay Kieran to do that. Maybe I'm going to be that person for you. It might start by following me on Instagram at melbrowne.money. But what I hope it will eventually be is that you'll join one of my classes, one of my lessons, or even the My Financial Adulting Plan because in order to develop that database gut, you actually need to start that education and that knowledge because otherwise you've got no substance to base it on. And it's really easy for you then to be blown around in the wind.
The other thing that I think it's really important is to understand that we're all going to make mistakes and that's okay. The difference is how quickly can you recover from them? And I think that's true, whether it's your business, your relationship, whether it's your finances and more, we're all going to stuff up. But it's how quickly can you recover from that? And then how can you, what can you put in place to make sure that you don't make that mistake again?
In this situation, we did recover. We only use one of those videos during this launch, we'll use little snippets and we've used photos, but it certainly wasn't going to be the campaign that we thought. However, what I've done is put in place some things for next time based on those learnings. But it was that decision to go, you know what, we're going to pull the pin and that's okay. And it's an expensive freaking lesson, right? But the idea is that the next lesson you make takes shorter period of time to recover from and costs you less. And every single time you put things in place so that you recover quicker, it costs less. You recover quicker, it costs less.
And that costs less might be costing you less in dollars, or it might cost you less in time. But you're putting things in place so that it doesn't.
But I hope that this conversation made you realise that, we are all fallible. But it is really important to trust your gut. It's really important to understand you're not for everyone, whether that's your business, but also with your finances. To understand that the chances are some of you with it when it comes to your money, are there going, you know what? Owning a home is just not for me, but everyone's doing it. I really feel like it's not financially adulting unless I do. I want you to develop that database gut. So that you understand, actually, no, I can rentvest. I do have options. I need to invest. I can't just do nothing. But there are options available to me. But you don't know what they are unless you start to learn, unless you start to build that muscle. I've built that business muscle and my financial muscle for more than two decades now. For you, that business or that financial muscle might be really weak, but it is about how can we build that up so that when something feels like an itchy jacket, like this did, you can more quickly take it off or more quickly respond to why that feels the way that it does and what can you do that's right for you instead.