As we kick off the new year, we can all learn some lessons on financial empowerment and productivity from financial advisor and podcaster Hilary Hendershott, who shares how she manages her time and a busy life that includes leading a financial advisory firm, hosting a podcast, and enjoying her family.
Financial empowerment and productivity
Hilary Hendershott is a financial advisor and Certified Financial Planner, a podcaster, and a mom and wife based in San Jose, California. She believes finance does not have to be complex, and mainly serves clients who want to build wealth but are intimidated by the male-oriented Wall Street speak and have been led to believe they don’t have a head for numbers. She also runs the Profit Boss Podcast and will be hosting a live event for women in January 2018 (see below for more info!). At home, she and her husband are parents of an adorable 18-month-old daughter.
A typical day
Hilary gets up at 5 a.m., eats breakfast, and heads over to her Crossfit gym to work out for an hour. Her daughter is up at 7, so she spends an hour with her before the nanny arrives at 8. Once the nanny arrives, Hilary can get herself ready for the day. Some days, she has an early virtual meeting to attend to from home, but most days she commutes into her office, which takes about an hour.
Hilary maximizes her time by time-blocking. She divides the days of her week into themes: Mondays are for creative projects and podcast recordings. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for client meetings. Wednesdays are for other projects. Fridays are for team meetings and an accountability call.
While working in these time blocks, Hilary realized two linchpins that are essential for her productivity.
The first is that she needs two other sections of time to focus and work productively when her husband is available to look after the baby and emails stop coming in. Depending on the week, she’ll take one or two weekday nights, or 4 hours on a Saturday, to get projects and commitments done.
Another linchpin she’s found to be helpful is to close all computer applications at the end of her workday, review the things that got done that day, and make a list of what needs to get done the next day. This end-of-workday routine enables her to have a peace of mind and enjoy her evening. Hilary also believes that starting the day with the task list she made the day before enables her to jump right into work rather than having to sort through email looking for something to do.
She is usually in bed around 9 or 9:30 pm.
Biggest productivity challenges
Hilary’s first challenge is food. If she eats the way she is given to eat, her eating habits would leave her lethargic, slow, sleeping poorly, and with a muffin top. She has also accepted that diabetes runs in her family, and insulin has a huge effect on her energy level.
To address this, Hilary she makes sure she has cruciferous vegetables in small containers in her fridge at work, and she works out 4 to 5 times a week. There are definitely weeks where she struggles with maintaining the discipline of these healthy habits, but when she sees how her productivity suffers, and she starts to feel bad for herself, she turns to her accountability buddies to confess she fell off the wagon and declare it's over. Then she resumes her healthy eating.
Her second challenge is the planning fallacy, where things take longer than what she had budgeted for them to take, and she’s often scrambling to make up for lost time. Her desire to do great work and a perfectionist tendency also contribute to this challenge, but she tries to remember that “done is better than perfect.”
Tools Hilary recommends
Maintaining your professional life with a young child to take care of requires reliable childcare. Care.com [disclosure: past sponsor of this podcast] is an important resource for Hilary to find last-minute help when her original plans fall through. She has about three sitters to reach out to at any given moment.
Also, Evernote is an indispensable tool for Hilary. She emails anything she has to make a note of using her custom Evernote email address. She is able to pull up these notes on the go by typing in a keyword and reviews them accordingly. Everything from recipes from last Thanksgiving to routines and responsibilities to team meeting documents to current projects lists inspired by Gary Keller (author of The One Thing) (see my discussion of lessons from Keller's book in episode 133) go into her Evernote system.
For keeping track of her tasks, Hilary uses Trello. In a course she took called The STEP System, she learned that the reason most to-do lists fail is people mix projects with actions, because to-do lists should only contain actions. (See episode 130 for more about this.) Something like “perfect SEO on my website” is a project, as it requires more steps to achieve that goal. This knowledge took her productivity up a notch.
Each morning, Hilary references her current projects lists to get her focus for the day and then takes a look at her Trello board to review the to-do items she listed the evening before. Then she actually writes out her to-do list on a pad of paper.
She also has an assistant who organizes her email box. The assistant checks her inbox twice a day and organizes emails into folders for client work, marketing work, and other. When Hilary goes into her inbox she doesn't have to worry about whether there’s a client email she’s not seeing. In the past, this was a concern because she would spend all her time sorting through email, rather than responding to the important emails. Now, she can go straight to her client inbox and start working to get it down to inbox zero each day.
Other transformational tips and tricks she uses are scheduling days off, date nights, and vacations, not taking phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognize, and turning off all notifications to her mobile devices.
Hilary's suggestions for a financially productive year
In the past, Hilary found herself in a lot of credit card debt due to overspending despite the fact that she was a certified financial planner and had a degree in economics. Once she hit the bottom of her barrel, she decided she would not allow it to continue. She pulled herself up by the bootstraps, paid off her debt, rebuilt her savings account, and built her business to a point where it could easily sell for multiple seven-figures.
Hilary shares this story to encourage her clients and listeners to realize that anything is possible. During our discussion, she also shared an abbreviated version of the “Seven Steps to Wealth” system she uses both to keep herself in the black and to coach her clients to do the same. (Learn more on her website.)
1. Decide to Build Wealth
Often the people Hilary meets have not really made the decision to make their finances a priority and become financially free; their mindset gets in the way. She suggests that you review where you are mentally, put a stake in the ground, and tell yourself that you will do whatever it takes to become free of financial concerns.
2. Create a Wealth Plan
Write down how much you are going to save, and how much you are going to target towards your debt.
Hilary says how you talk about money subconsciously communicates what you actually think. For example, you might say “I can’t afford that,” which communicates that you are less powerful than money. By rephrasing that to “Let’s see how I can work that into my budget” or “How can I make that happen?” you can reframe your thinking and create a more empowered mindset about money.
Make bigger requests of the world, which can mean negotiating for a car, or asking for a raise, but it can also mean looking for a new skill set to make yourself more valuable in the marketplace and grow your business. It’s really about growing the size of your life, value, and financial life.
That means taking inspired action to bring income and assets into your financial ecosystem. People can fall into scarcity thinking, such as “it's hard to make money” or “there's not a lot out there.” Hilary believes, though, that wealth is infinite. It's not a zero-sum game, so there is plenty out there for you
Women are saving more money and making more financial decisions than in the past, but we’re not engaging with the stock market or investments to earn compound wealth. The truth is that unless you have more money than you need, investing is critical to your financial future. Hilary teaches simple ways to understand the stock market.
We've all heard stories of people who win tens of millions of dollars only to squander it all and end up worse than before. These, Hilary says, are the folks who don’t engage in the step of protecting. You need to develop habits and use products to limit and transfer risk to protect what you’ve built. This includes insurance policies, umbrella policies, life insurance, estate planning, and simply ensuring you don’t overspend what you’ve saved.
What happens on a day when everything gets away from you?
When things get away from Hilary, she tends to fall into a spiral of negative self-talk like “I blew it,” “I’m not big enough.” One day a year or so, she’ll have to put up the white flag and be done for the day. She cancels her meetings, goes home to sit and watch a movie or go to bed early.
The rest of the time, about once a month, she reaches out to her accountability buddies–friends and business owners she knows–to off-load the things going on in her life and get some support. They usually can allow her to say what’s happening and provide an inspirational voice.
Hilary knows business ownership is a mental game; she goes to a lot of lengths to keep her mindset empowered. This isn't her natural personality, so it's critical for her to have a mastermind of supporters.
What's on the horizon for Hilary?
Hilary is hosting the Profit Boss Live Workshop in San Jose, California, on January 19, 2018. This a one-day intimate workshop where women will spend the day reviewing, contemplating, and internalizing the Seven Steps to Wealth. There will be 5-6 women at each table where attendees will have the opportunity to review their financial life, create some action items, and leave with a legitimate wealth plan. You can find out more on the Profit Boss Live website. If you're interested, don't wait to check it out–she's selling only 65 tickets to this workshop!
Last thoughts on making a life that matters
While Hilary speaks in numbers, her overarching message is one of empowerment. She encourages us to believe that anything is possible, and that you are not alone, wherever you are. Whatever is going on in your life is surmountable.
Hilary also says money is a skill set that can be learned and mastered, just like diet, fitness, or productivity. The first step is to decide. If you are wondering if this can be you, she says with certainty, “Yes, it can!”
What do you think?
Connect with Hilary
More about Hilary
Hilary Hendershott is the founder of Hilary Hendershott Wealth Management and creator of Profit Boss Live, a one-day inspirational wealth-building workshop for women.
Hilary’s mission is to motivate women and their loved ones to be financially empowered. She also hosts Profit Boss Radio, a weekly podcast where Hilary and her guests offer inspiration and actionable advice to support women in their financial journey. In 2014, Hilary was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. With more than 30 television appearances, she’s considered the go-to personal finance expert in Silicon Valley for NBC, where they have nicknamed her “The Investor's Voice of Reason.” Hilary has an MBA from Santa Clara University and is a Certified Financial Planner.
Resources & Links
- Profit Boss Live one-day event
- The One Thing (Gary Keller)
- Getting Things Done (David Allen)
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