Uncensored Money: On Money and Power - with Kemi Nekvapil
Melissa Browne: Ex-Accountant, Ex-Financial Advisor, Ex-Working Till I Drop, Now Serial Entrepreneur & Author, Financial Wellness Advocate, Living a Life by Design | 10/05/2023
Kemi Nekvapil is one of Australia’s leading credentialed coaches for female executives and entrepreneurs, an author and a highly sought-after international speaker. She has trained with Dr Brené Brown and is a regular interviewer of industry icons including Elizabeth Gilbert, Martha Beck and Marie Forleo and is the author of the books, The Gift of Asking & Power.
In this interview, Mel asks Kemi about her money story as well as diving into comparison, hustling for your worth, money & power, perfectionism, boundaries, living a life without apology, comparative suffering and so much more.
You can find out more about Kemi by visiting her website.
The Audible Original podcast, POWER Talks with Kemi Nekvapil, is out on Tuesday 16 May and free to listen to. Follow the podcast at audible.com.au/powertalks.
You can also find Kemi’s books Power: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading Without Apology here and the Gift of Asking here.
If you know you need more help with your finances make sure you join the waitlist for the next round of the My Financial Adulting Plan.
If you're not already, come play over at insta at Mel Browne.Money and make sure you are signed up to Mel's Money Musings and Monday Money Moments (yep, we love us some alliteration) for more tips, tricks and ideas on how to best work with your money.
Finally, if you love this episode please make sure you subscribe and leave us a review.
Mel: So Kemi, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me about money today.
Kemi: I am so happy to talk to you about money or anything, Mel.
Mel: Oh, we are gonna be going lots of different places today, so money will just be one of the many topics we talk about I'm sure, but it's a question that I always like to ask when I'm talking to anyone about money and finances and shame or whatever we're gonna dive into today. So what was your money story growing up?
Kemi: Oh, I had quite a few money stories growing up. I had various primary carers from a very young age until my teens, so I had six money stories and I think I got the gamut of many money stories in one go. So I got money is evil. People that want money are greedy, money can be used to manipulate and blackmail and can be used for abuse. Money gives you freedom and leverage. Money is an extension of your values. Money is how you can help and contribute to other people. Money can be stolen from others if you don't have it for yourself. Like so much. And in some ways it was confusing. One thing I knew is that money had power.
Like I was like, okay, there's something here. And in some ways, it was confusing cause I was getting all of these messages. But I think it is what has allowed me to create my very grounded money story. You know, for my own adulthood and for my own growth, which I've needed to have done.
Mel: And how did you get there? How did you get from that? Like that is the gamut from absolute lack to absolute power. How did you reframe that and create your own money story?
Kemi: I think there were a few things, starting from having my first paper round when I was young and riding around on my bike. And I just remember not only whizzing around on my bike and being outside and in nature, but also feeling of purpose, being of service and getting money. I remember thinking, God, this feels good. Like, I like this feeling.
And then in my early teens, I was in a situation where I was babysitting for the woman that lived across the road for a pound an hour. She had five children. I babysat for her for five hours, five days a week. So I had 25 pounds at the end of every single week. And my sister and I were not in a great home environment then. So I would take us away, like to the shopping mall for the day on a Saturday. And that made me realise, oh, if you have money, you can get yourself out of situations.
And then one of the final ones was when I became an actor in the UK and my parents, one was a teacher. And one was kind of in middle management and I became an actor on TV. And within a year as an 18 year old, I was earning more than both of my parents put together. So then I had another relationship with money.
And to be honest, my relationship with money as an 18, 19, 20, 22 year old was like, I've got it. I've gotta spend it. If I've now got it, I need to spend it. So there was that excess of it as well.
And my relationship now with money is very much it gives you choice, it gives you freedom, it gives you leverage. It is not everything, but it is one of the energies and the currencies that we use in the world that we live in. And to pretend that it isn't, it just doesn't serve us, especially women. It doesn't serve us to pretend that if we don't have ownership over our money and our money stories, that somehow it means that we are not affected by money, the light and the shadow.
I have found it incredibly powerful to take ownership of enjoying earning money, enjoying sharing money, and contributing it to other people. And what I now stand in as a woman in midlife, like I'm gonna turn 50 next year, is that I love using money as a contribution. I love it for leverage, to buy myself time. I love it. Because I love making it. I love being of service. I love sharing it, and I think that as women in midlife as well, this is an opportunity for us to really look at where am I giving my power away when it comes to money? And where am I outsourcing it because I'm too scared or too ashamed or too embarrassed thinking that I should know about this? The reality is none of us were taught about money in school. Maths, not money.
Mel: No. And there is a big difference. I remember one of the Financial Adulting Plan alumni, Steph saying to me that she was great at math at school, but as soon as you put a dollar sign in front of that, suddenly her brain switched and she couldn't deal with it. It was really interesting.
Kemi: Yes, and I was the other way, so I wasn't good at maths at school, so I made the assumption, well that means I'm not good at money. And I completely missed that. But now I know I'm someone that once I commit to something, like once I commit to a plan, once I have a goal, I'm on it like that is it. And so my husband is very good at maths. Not always great with the action side of things. I'm not great at maths, but I'm really great with the implementation and the actions. We have our own way of working in that as a partnership.
Mel: That is such a reframe from that gamut. I love that you've come to the place of choice, but also as you said in that midlife, there are so many women who just simply aren't at that place where they don't have choice, but also they don't wanna face their finances. And as someone who has that beautiful money story what would you suggest to someone that is a midlife that hasn't faced those finances yet?
Kemi: It's two things that come to mind. One, I think it's one of the most romantic gestures I've ever heard. This is in a heterosexual relationship, and this is, I suppose, around the politics of money in heterosexual relationships. Where the husband decided to put the house in the wife's name so that he knew that she was only staying with him because she wanted to, not cause she would lose her home. Like even say I heard that like 10 years ago and it still gives me goosebumps. Cause it just shows what a feminist he was to know.
And then I think when we look at the politics of women in midlife, now we know the statistics. Midlife is where relationships end, and they're the ones that end up in really precarious situations in midlife. So I think what I would say, and I know what's so beautiful about the work that you do, Mel is that so many of us have felt shame around not knowing about money. That's where the power comes in, is to say, I do have shame. I am in that. I don't know. I don't understand. No one taught me because it's from that place of ownership that then you get to slowly make actions and in a three months time, in six months time, in a year's time, you can be in a completely different place, not just in your bank account. But the confidence that you have in yourself of being able to handle your own business.
Mel: Yeah. And that confidence, I think is just important as the bank account. The bank account's important, but the confidence is important.
Brené, who is one of my favourite people on the planet, this planet, and who you were able to study under, which I am so inordinately jealous of both of you once said that if you don't own your story, it'll control you.
And I say that line a lot when I'm talking about money story. But you said a really similar thing when you said and I'm gonna quote, 'I can practically guarantee that somewhere in that hard decision was either, you having to be present to what was working or not working in your life. You have to take ownership of your story in some way or another. Having to tap into your innate wisdom, knowing that you are equal enough to the people who are around you to make that ask or leave that person, or leave that situation, and that you decided to take full responsibility for your life, which means when we can step into any of those principles, we are already stepping into a form of power'.
And I read that and just went, oh, like I just needed a moment to digest it. Because for me, that is describing you taking ownership of that story. So I wanna talk about those statements, both Brene's and yours, and talk about particularly how they relate to women and money.
Kemi: And what you've done in, in that paragraph is, the way that I've broken down the world, the word 'power' and the power principles around presence, ownership, wisdom, equality and responsibility, that is so linked to money.
Like we have to be present to, is this working or not working? What I'm doing, me with a glass of wine, pressing pay, or buy now every night. Is that actually working? And then taking ownership of, maybe I have some habits that I'm consciously or unconsciously sabotaging myself and the money goals that I have for myself.
Wisdom is trusting that innate wisdom that we have all been through stuff in our life. You don't get to this point in your life and have not been through stuff, being resourceful, had to start again and just tap into that inner wisdom.
Equality, I remember when I said to my husband about coming to Australia and when I worked as an actor. I owned my own money. I had my own home in London, and then suddenly I was at home with children in a country that I didn't know, living with his parents, and he was going out to work. And I felt the shift. I felt myself give over my power. I felt myself suddenly basically asking for money and permission for money and now we're at a point when, a few years ago, I said to him, I've been at home with the kids. Your super's looking great. Mine's not great. We need to sort that out. Now, I would not have known to have had that conversation if I hadn't learned about money for myself in my own way, and really had to, not that I had to enrol him, he wasn't like he got it. But if I hadn't said anything, it probably just would've played out.
Mel: He wouldn't have thought about it.
Kemi: Exactly. He wouldn't have thought about it, just wouldn't have thought about it. And then responsibility once again, I grew up very much with the motto, which does have a shadow side, but that no one's coming to save you. You know what I've had to learn is that actually there are lots of people in life that contribute and support. So that's what I mean, it has a shadow side. It meant that I felt like I had to do everything on my own. We take on 'no magic Money Fairy is gonna come and make this all better'. I think a lot of people think once they have more money, then things will sort itself out.
Mel: Oh yes I can. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
Kemi: And what we miss is all of the information we have about lottery winners and how having more money, or even people that have earned the money, through business or whatever. Having money does not change the money story. That has more money in the bank that says nothing about what's gonna happen to that money in the end.
Mel: Yeah. And it's such interesting stats around lottery winners and the bankruptcies, but also the people that live around the lotto winners and them trying to keep up.
It's interesting what you were saying I think. It's really easy, isn't it? Cause privilege really comes into this. And I know this is something that you've written and talked about before, like when it comes to money, there is a privilege. There's a privilege if you're a male, to say your husband didn't need to think about that. He didn't think about that. There's a privilege for a woman of a particular age. In midlife even though there are women whose Super balances are low, there's still a privilege in that.
And I remember being at the Business Chicks expo that you spoke at, and I can't think of who the speaker was. It was a US speaker. She said from being born where we are, we have the privilege of birth. And I feel like there's a lot of talk at the moment about, it's hard, and I think that comes from a place of privilege as well, where it is hard, but also it's a privilege for it to be hard in Australia.
Kemi: Yeah. And I think what's interesting about that as well, bringing Brené back into the conversation where she talks about comparative suffering. It's people's experiences of the kind of economic climate now, the reality is in Australia, many, many people are struggling. That is the truth. That is a fact. And people need to better look after their business in that the way that they can. And yet, as you say, especially if you've got all the privileges. So if you are a white, male, Christian, cis-gendered, able-bodied, male, yes in Australia, then of course you are, you have more privileges than maybe some other people don't. Because we can't say Australia as a whole because of First Nations. You know what I mean? And even though when I walk into a shop as a black woman, I will still get treated in a particular way because of my skin colour and people have no idea how much money I have in my bank account. They do not think about, oh, they're someone that maybe is going to, whatever is going to support my business financially. There's a kind of particular look that I'm used to seeing sometimes that it is, the privileges that we all have. As long as, once again, as long as we're aware of them and we take ownership of them. It really feeds into our money story because it is a privilege to be able to save. It is a privilege to have super. And it's really hard for some people right now in this economic climate. And yes, it's gonna be really hard for people for a very long time and for some people it won't get easier.
Mel: Yeah. I love that comparative suffering because I think, like I say to my husband, if you gonna say, sorry, you can't say 'but' at the end, it's the 'and'
Kemi: Yes. Everyone's training their partners with that!
Now, Brene, and I told you I was gonna bring her up today, talks about the idea of hustling for your worth, which I think people really feel this at the moment. We're hustling for our worth. We're on the hamster wheel. We just talked about comparative suffering and how it is hard for people at the moment financially. And with just had another interest rate rise. And I'm sure as a coach you see perfectionism rear its head a lot with women, especially when it comes to this idea of hustling. So talk to me about that, about women and money and hustling.
Kemi: It's interesting. I'm sort of thinking. Think about perfectionism, and I know that you have said many times that you are a recovering perfectionist. And I can honestly say that is not something that I have ever suffered from. I'm very much a good enough person.
Mel: Oh, I love it. I wish. I wish!
Kemi: I'm just trying to think about perfectionism in regards to money with some of the clients that I've worked with. Do you know where I see it play out more in the hustling for worth? Remember many years ago, actually a friend, we were gonna meet up and she was from overseas and she was living in Australia and she wanted us to meet up and I said, oh, let's go for lunch somewhere.
And she sent me this email and she said and I was just at the beginning of me taking ownership of my money story and she said, oh, I can't meet up for lunch there. I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you, but actually, we just moved overseas and sort of don't have the money and something.
And I could just tell the shame and the embarrassment in her voice that she couldn't go for lunch. And this wasn't a swanky place. Like, I like to go to nice to eat, but this wasn't that. And I remember just taking a moment of pause of how I was gonna respond. And actually the first thing I said to her was, I am so proud of you that you are on a money journey too 'cause so am I.
Mel: Oh, I love that. Nice.
Kemi: Yeah. I said let's let go of this thing that one of us has to cover the money. Like, one of us has to prove that we're going well, so I just said to her, that is fine. Let's go for a walk around the lake instead.
Mel: Beautiful. Yep.
Kemi: Let's both look after each other and the way that we are learning about money and how we're looking after ourselves. Let's do that for each other. But what I see is, and I have a lot of friendships now, we basically just go dutch. And even my husband and I, there's something romantic about. I'll say to him, I say, are you gonna, are you getting dinner tonight or am I getting dinner tonight?
Mel: And so I think that we have to be mindful as women of how we support each other around money. Like, I surround myself with women now, especially female entrepreneurs. We're talking about money is a little bit like having a really good orgasm. Like exciting. It's exciting. We wanna have them, we wanna have multiple..
Kemi: we wanna have multiple, and it's exciting and there's no shame. And we talk about our numbers and who earnt what at what gig and oh, did you know? Oh I didn't know that. There's a woman, amazing woman in America called Rachel Rogers.
Mel: She's oh, she's extraordinary. Yeah.
Kemi: Yeah. A black American. And something that she said, which really resonated with me, she said, if we keep pretending that we don't live in a capitalist society you're missing the point. She said, use your socialist views and fund them with capitalist means.
And I just thought, that's what so many female entrepreneurs do. We make money and then we contribute to causes and things that mean something to us, that people with different privileges from us. It's not that they're intentionally not funding, they just don't see them. They don't see us. They just don't see us.
So how do people that are marginalised or people that have, don't have the privilege of gender, how do we support each other if we don't have the energy and the currency and the resources within the world that we live in? Yeah. How do we do it? We wait for somebody else to do it for us. They're not gonna do it for us.
Mel: Yeah. Or we donate time and for a lot of those causes, time is great. But actually, you need money. They need money.
Kemi: Yeah, exactly. And I think just as well, before we move on, Mel, the other part of that, I think we also have to be mindful as women as well, that we're allowed to spend our money on whatever we want.
Kemi: Yeah. I do baulk when there's this kind of sense that if a woman is earning money, if a woman is wealthy or is building wealth, she somehow has to atone for that by sharing how much is contributing to charity, where she's helping. We don't ask men those questions, just don't ask men those questions.
And we can see the famous rich men in the world right now where they're spending their money. And that's fine. I've never begrudged anyone else's agency over their money. I don't care what other people do with their money, I focus on what I'm doing with my money.
Mel: Yeah. And what values are important to you? I've been told a lot of times that I should share how much I give away or donate, etc. Cause it would be good for business. And I grew up in a very fundamental Christian family, which brought its own things. But one of the things I did take from that is I actually don't wanna share that. That for me is very personal. I'm very happy to show you, you can see the bookcase behind me. People know that I'm into shoes and fashion. And travel. But I just think some things, you're right, it's that sort of thing's actually really personal to me.
Kemi: Yeah. And it's a form of a patriarchal and misogynistic narrative, which is if you are a woman that has money…
Mel: …you should wanna give it away or, and be obvious about it.
Kemi: That you must be obvious about giving it away. Yes. If not, I don't trust you and you must be greedy and an unkind person. And we buy into, like, it's easy for women to buy into that as well because of our internalised patriarchy and misogyny and all those things that we then think, oh, I have to justify it. It's like, nope, you're just allowed to earn money and do with it what you want. Yeah.
Mel: Oh god. Amen. And I really see your friend that you had lunch with as not hustling for her worth by simply saying, I don't wanna hustle to hold up this image of what I should be and what I should be able to be. I'm just gonna be vulnerable and say, actually this is where I'm at. Like, that is such a gift.
Kemi: Actually, I can share with you a thing where I did hustle for my worth around money. It was at a particular suburb here in Melbourne. Well, let's just say there are not a lot of people that look like me in that suburb.
And I walked into the shop and I just felt the energy straight away. And I share a story like this in my book actually, but that was around the champagne and going into the shop and the guy sending me to the sale section. Oh. And me hustling for my worth, me buying the Verve to just as a kind of, you do not get to tell me what I can afford. Because if you've looked at me and think, well, you obviously can't afford that, so go to the sale section. But I was in a clothes shop and I could just tell they just didn't think I could afford anything in there, and I wasn't the person that I am now. And I felt like I had to prove to them that I could afford it. And I bought this jacket and I think I wore it once.
Mel: Because it was to prove the point…
Kemi: Yeah, it didn't even really suit me. And I had it in my cupboard for years. I was like, you spent so much money on this jacket you have. And then I just thought, you have to get rid of this. You have to donate this. Someone is gonna fall over themselves finding this particular jacket in an op shop. Just let it go. And it's a lesson to you to never prove to somebody that you are worth anything because of the amount of money that you can spend in their presence. It's a great lesson.
Mel: Yeah, absolutely. So you are not a recovering perfectionist, but I am. I'm also a goal-setter, and I know you have opinions about the positivity movement, as do I. And Kemi mentioned her book before, Power. We're gonna link her podcast where she talks about power talks and her book Power. Please go on by this if you love this conversation. I read that you've said, 'for me we have to be very careful of positivity. I would rather that someone is present, that someone is present at being able to own their feelings. Because as we know now that, the positivity movement, can go a bit too far the other way' because I see with money it's no, no, everything's fine. It's all fine and I can manifest this and I can do that, and I'm just gonna lean into manifesting and money story mindset. And ignore all the hard stuff because this is shiny and pretty and I'm such a fan of mindset and money story. That's so important, but we can't live there. So I'm really curious about what your thoughts around the tension between having goals and working towards them, manifesting and the potential toxicity of positivity.
Kemi: Yeah. Presence is the first power principle. It's that kind of idea that we've spoken about already, like taking ownership of where you actually are. And not trying to, what I call icing over mud. I am also a goal setter and I love manifestation and mindset and all of those things, but I think something like money, it can seem so big to people that it's kind of easier to kind of look at the icing and the nice bit and not kind of look at, yeah, but what's actually going on underneath all of this. But there is such power when you look underneath and see what's actually going on. Like I'm at a point in my money journey now in terms of my energy and feeling around it. I was someone that was very much raised, like, didn't know about money. Money was shameful. And then when I started earning money, kind of couldn't get rid of it quickly enough. Cause I wanted all my friends to feel that I wasn't a bit better than them cause I was earning more money than them.
I never thought that on a Saturday morning that I would go to my favourite cafe and get my favourite coffee and favourite cinnamon bun, come back home. I have a money playlist that I listen to and I do my weekly numbers.
Mel: Oh. I love that!
Kemi: I don't work on the weekends. But that is something that I love to do every Saturday morning, cause for me it's a real tell sign of the growth that I have achieved for myself, step by step, podcast by podcast, you know, conversation with financial advice every little way. Now for me, it's a source of my power is knowing my money and understanding it.
Mel: Yeah. And I think that's a difference between simple positivity, but it's gonna be okay. And you sit down on a Saturday with your money playlist and your numbers and you look at it, you face it.
Kemi: And actually look at it and able to kind of go, oh, what was my outgoing this week? Why? Okay. I need to look at that. Oh my gosh, how come I'm still paying for that subscription? I haven't used that. You know, all of those sorts of things. And it just felt that sense of like, I've got this handled. Yes, I've got this handled.
Mel: And that's where the 'and' comes in because I'm a firm believer you can man manifest and you can have those great habits, but you can't just have one. Manifesting is not enough.
Kemi: I dunno if bank managers call people so much anymore, but if your bank manager calls you and says, you're overdrawn, you can't say 'I'm manifesting money'.
Mel: Your bank manager's gonna get nervous if you say that.
Yeah. Your last book is called Power, as I said, and I hear that word and I imagine women would react to saying that they want more power potentially as being unfeminine. Like I hear ‘power’ in the same way as I hear ‘money’. That's unfeminine. That's for the blokes. And I really wanna hear from what you have to say about women's power, why it's so important and the role money has in that. Because I think there's an abdication of power around money. And certainly relationships, I see an abdication. And I think this is such an important point that you've made.
Kemi: Yeah, and I think, let's just look at the Oxford Dictionary definition of the word 'power', which is the ability to do something in a particular way. That's it.
And as you've said, sort of women's power, like even in the book I say, I'm not gonna call it soft power or feminine power or women's power. It is power. It is power. Now, what most women don't want and what we've been affected by is patriarchal power or about the 'power over' model. Most of us do not want that. But there is an innate power that we have and if we were to gender it, let's look at how powerful women have been in the world. We have been so powerful that we have been burnt at the stake. That is as powerful as we have been.
So it's through all of these systems that have made us feel that we can't do money, we shouldn't do money, to want money is greedy, we're a bad woman, we're this, we're that, all of that we have to undo it and it takes time. And it takes having teachers and people like you, Mel, that will slowly and compassionately and empathetically walk women through the process of, okay. This is where you are now and that is fine, and that is where we're starting. But I can guarantee you this is not where we're gonna end up. Because you're gonna get handled and you're gonna be in your power around this. And the application as I said, I did do that when I became a mum at home from being a successful actor and earning my own money and you know, that was a conversation that I had to have with my partner in the early days of our relationship and parenting. I sort of realised a few years in like, what's happened, what has happened? Yeah, we had to have some conversations around his money story, and my money story and where they clashed and what he believed money was and what I believe money was. And we've been together for 20 years now, and I would say that we are now probably at the sweetest point that we have ever been.
Mel: Oh, after 20 years. I love hearing that. Yeah. Because you've come at it curiously. You've come at it as what's your money story? Not you are doing money wrong and this is how it should be.
Kemi: Oh no, we did that. That's why took 20 years! <laugh>
Mel: I love your honesty.
Kemi: Yes. It was all about that. He didn't understand where my money stuff was coming from. I didn't understand where his money stuff was coming from. He thought we need to do it this way. I would spend a lot of, and I think I'll share this cause I think a lot of women, I would just get very emotional and just end up in tears and leave the room sometimes, which has left him kind of standing on his own going, what's happening? We're just having a look at some numbers, you know? But all of this stuff going on. I remember saying to him, I said, babe, you were raised as a white male, that the world is your oyster and anything you want is yours. I said, I have had to unpick so many negative stories about me as a woman, about me as a black woman. I said, you need to be able to just sit with what I have to work through every time we look at this spreadsheet. You are just like, here's a spreadsheet. I'm like, you don't deserve this. You are not worthy of this. You don't know how to do this. I said, we need to meet each other because we're gonna be really powerful together, but you need to be patient with me. And that's why now you know, we are where we are.
Mel: And how long do you think that process took from when you really started to, okay, we're gonna have those conversations and do that work to that where you said this is the sweetest spot that you're at.
Kemi: Oh, I don't know. I think it's just been a series of conversations and us both being committed to having the most powerful partnership that we can. And I feel that along the way. I think within long-term relationships especially, you always have these things that keep coming back that you're not quite, you know, sometimes in there, there's some in there. There's been the mediator in there to be able to kind of sit with both sides of that conversation.
And it's always kind of changing as we acquire, you know, we bought another property last year, so that's a whole conversation around that. And you know, how are we gonna do that and what's the best way? Well, I think this, and I think this, and it's like, oh, maybe we need to just go and see a therapist just for a couple of sessions to sort this out.
And then I think it's more that. I'm not now reactive in the way that I used to be. And he's more he understands the emotions of money for himself, not just me. Cause he was like, money's not emotional. I'm like, babe, but you've got emotion around money. It doesn't look like my emotion around money, but I'm looking at it and it's right there.
So I think with us both understanding that in each of and honouring that in each other. It's just that we're both willing to show up for it. I think obviously it's hard in a partnership. If one partner has their head in the sand or is trying to control and dominate, then you're not gonna get the same outcome.
But I would hate to give the listeners the idea that, you know, one day we had a conversation and it was all great. It hasn't been linear, but it's definitely been worth the really hard challenging conversations to get to where we are.
Mel: And I love that you mentioned that it's involved a therapist even cause you know, money's the number one thing couples fight about. We fight about it on average twice a month. I think we need to remove the shame of sometimes we need to get a third party in, to mediate or to highlight to do that unconscious bias that we are carrying. Or the johari window where it's, you are not seeing this, but I see it so clearly.
Kemi: Yeah, and loads of people who have said this, that have had therapists either as individuals or in couples. One of the most annoying things that a lot of us go into therapies, especially when it's, couples’ therapies, basically just want the therapist to just say to your partner, your wife is right. So if you can just get your stuff together, everything's gonna be fine. You know, and it does allow you to have the mirror shone on you too, going, hey, actually, how you are showing up in this isn't great either. So it's not just the other person. That's the ownership and that's the responsibility, you know, that actually it takes two to create a dynamic and it takes two of you to create something else if you're in a relationship.
Mel: I am such a big believer in boundaries, whether it's in relationships and I know we just talked, you know, marriage, but for me and my family, so I mentioned that I grew up in a fundamental Christian family. I have extraordinary boundaries with my family and I need to have them. And to be honest, they're getting tighter the older I get, because that's how I am able to be in relationship with them. But certainly when it comes to money, I think they're really important. I think great boundaries are one of the keys to having great finances. Cause it's gonna depend on who you allow in to have those conversations and to influence them. But you talk about boundaries in your book, and I'm curious how you see them played out positively and negatively when it comes to women, and particularly like wealth and career and business and finances. So that is part of life.
Kemi: Well, I think, what you just said about family there, that's one of the things about becoming an adult is that we have to cut the umbilical cord, but we don't cut it once, you know?
Mel: Do it again and, and decide, oh wow, I'm shoving you further into that part of the house and lock, locking the door and yeah.
Kemi: But I like what you said, boundaries allow us to actually show up and love more. I say that boundaries are about wearing your dignity on your sleeve. It's saying, I can love you in this way, and then the other person gets to choose whether that's enough for them or not, and they might need to put a boundary in place and that's fine.
In terms of women and boundaries and money and career and that sort of thing, especially with social media, I think we need to be really clear around what we as individuals see as a successful business and career. What do we actually want? So for me as a public speaker, I could have a goal of speaking on as many stages and speaking in as many places as I possibly could because that is going to build a certain amount of revenue for me. But I also know that if I do that, I'm going to hate every single stage that I'm on and every single audience that I'm speaking to. And I feel so disconnected from myself and my family and what matters to me. My garden basically, and my farm. But I wouldn't enjoy any of that. So it's also this thing around money is a form of wealth, but there's also the wealth of wellbeing. And the wealth of connection. And one of the beautiful things we get to do, especially those of us that are female entrepreneurs, cause we do have agency, I know that a lot of people start businesses for freedom and then they feel like they're boxed in. They've created businesses where they have less freedom when they're working for somebody else.
But actually we do have agency and autonomy over our time If we are working for ourselves, especially as solo entrepreneurs, or if we have very lean teams, which is another choice that we decide, yeah, we can look at what other people are doing and think, oh, that's what success is. Oh, that's the sort of money I want.
But when you actually take the time to be present and to take ownership of who you are and what you want, your idea of wealth and success may have nothing to do with what that other person says. You know, what is it they say is, I don't know if it's still the same numbers around. Once you've earned $150,000 a year, your level of happiness does not increase.
Mel: It's exactly right.
Kemi: So we know that, and obviously that's Western numbers and obviously we know that. But there's something in that. The book I read at the beginning of this year was The Psychology Of Money. And the thing that I took away from that was so powerful, it's kind of around boundaries is: what is enough? And I just thought how freeing to give ourselves the space to work out what is enough for me?
Mel: Like what means we don't hustle? We don't have to compare. We're asking the question, how much is enough?
Kemi: How much is enough?
Mel: Yep. What's enough? What does it look like?
Kemi: Why do I need it? When do I want it? Like, does it have to be a raise? Does it have to be like, oh my God, scarcity scarcity, I've gotta do it now cause it might all go. Or could it just be I trust? I trust that if I'm doing the right things and I'm clear on who I am, the answer's gonna present themselves. So many people because we live by default unless we carve out the time and trust that we're worthy of the time to really look at some of these things in our lives and to work out what is my money situation now? What do I want it to be? Or even you say, start from the beginning. What has been my money story? What is it now and what do I want it to be in the future, and what is the support and help that I need to get from where I am to where I wanna be? Because it's doable. It's possible. That's so doable.
Mel: Yeah. And I love that question because that, for me, it's answers everything from money story to perfectionism to positivity to hustling for worth. It's everything once you answer the question, but actually, what does enough mean for me? It comes down to your values. It comes down to what you want in life. And I think too many people living that life by default and never stop and ask that question because you know, we are carrying this mobile shopping device around with us, comparing ourselves to everyone else and thinking that's what we should have. And not trying to ask it. We in the Financial Adulting Plan have actually got some worksheets that help you answer that question. Cause we think it's such an important question. Like, how much is enough?
Kemi: How much is enough? Yeah. That's exactly right. And what are you willing, I sort of talk about every action we take takes energy and every action that we don't take takes energy. Energy is being expended either through the stress of not knowing what's going on with your finances or it is being used in actually getting on top of your finances. It's just where do you wanna put your energy?
Mel: Oh god yes. Yes. And I see that a lot. My second last question for you before I let you go. I'd love this conversation. So when I think of you, I think of someone living their life without apology. I just think that it's beautiful and it's uncommon because I see too many people, as I just said, living a life by default, comparing themselves to others, apologising for every single misstep along the way, living in fear of that misstep. How do women get off that hamster wheel or merry-go-round and reclaim their lives, which includes their career and business and money so that they can lead a life without apology? You know, just a small question.
Kemi: just a small question!
Mel: In 30 seconds. Go.
Kemi: There's not a worksheet for that one. I can promise you that <laugh>
You know, and this is the thing, part of having this thing in our hand that gives us the idea that personal development and growth is really quick and really easy. And it's not, it is part of a lot of things. And you know, the reason that I now live unapologetically, I think, it's part of midlife actually. And I don't like it when people say, I don't care what people think. I'm always like okay. Well, I do. Not a good way to live in the world cause like we're humans connected to other people. I do care what people think, but I'm more discerning about what I care about the people. And who I care what they think exactly. Who do I respect and why and that sort of thing. And it's not like I am now living a life without apology. I will still walk into shops where I will be made to feel not welcome and I will feel an apology to every single cell in my body.
But I now have the tools to build myself back up if that happens. I live unapologetically now because I lived a lot of my life being an apology. And what I've learned with my clients is that when they're coming to work with me, something has happened in their lives. Either they're getting that sense of, I've got what I thought I wanted and now I've got it, I’ve realised it’s not what I thought it was. Or I've got what I wanted and it's all been great, but now what's next? Or I've realised that I have been hustling my whole life and I have no idea who I am. And it's kinda starting from the beginning again. You know, it's like if you are not a role, if you're not a sister, you're not a daughter, and you're not a wife, and you're not a mother, who are you fundamentally as an independent human being?
And it's not quick work. It isn't, and it can be really confronting and we have to let people go on that journey. The great thing about that though is it creates space for people that are attracted to the work that we're doing to come in. But they don't come until we're willing to let go of what's not working.
And although it's hard work and its confronting work, it is the most rewarding work to be able to stand in yourself and take full ownership of who you are.
Mel: I love that answer. Cause I think, and I cheekily asked that question hoping that you would give me that because I think too many people are looking for the seven steps. Like just give me the seven steps to this. But the deeper work is transformational work. And it's messier. It's whether it's finances, whether it's relationships, whether it's career, like all parts of your life, it's messier. But it's transformational.
Kemi: It's transformational. And the other thing is, I was talking to a client the other day and she was like, I thought I had dealt with that already. I was like, I know. This is why personal development is really annoying. It is never-ending, I said, but yes would you go back to living in denial? And she's like, I could never go back to that cause I'd never go back to that. And I said, no, we're onions. There are layers upon layers upon layers, and it's a gift to be able to do the work.
Mel: And as you said, having the tools because I'll find myself in those situations where I go, oh, come on. I thought I'd dealt with this. And it's been kind to yourself and going, no, this is why I have these tools. So which one is, which one am I gonna pull out today?
Kemi: Exactly. Which one do I need today? One tool, you know, whether it's affirmations, whether it's journaling, whether it's meditation, whether there's no tool. Except for probably drinking water and moving your body most days.
Some you use and you maximise that tool for a period of time, put it away, never use it again. Others that you just continually use. Like the one for me around me doing my numbers at the weekend with my playlist and my cinnamon bun. I don't need to do that. I have a bookkeeper and a financial advisor, an accountant. I have all of the people. It's not about that. It's about me taking ownership of the journey that I have taken myself on, and it's a way of me celebrating the work that I've done. And I want that for all women. I want us to be able to celebrate ourselves and the work that we do, especially when it comes around owning our power and owning our wealth in all its forms.
Mel: Yeah. Cause women are crap at celebrating themselves. Absolutely.
Any final thoughts or anything I haven't touched on or that you would like to say about, or leave people with about the conversation we've had today?
Kemi: I think my final thought, cause I say it to a lot of people, I'm not sure I've ever said it to you, is that your work is so powerful and so impactful, and you have definitely been one of the people that has helped me shift my money story over the last few years, and you are an incredible resource and your work is really meaningful. So I just wanna say thank you for the work that you do in the world.
Mel: Oh, thank you so much and absolutely right back at you. I love having you in my world. I kind of think of you as that cool drink of water where sometimes, as you said you always need water. And I look at you sometimes in the work that you're doing and go, yeah. You are like our Australian Brené, which I cannot think of a higher honour.
Kemi: I'll take that.
Mel: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Kemi. Thank you for sharing your story, your relationship so vulnerably and so powerfully, if I might use that word. I will put all of Kemi's resources in the show notes below, and make sure you give her a follow and take a listen to her Audible, which is coming out Power Talks, later on in May as well.