Introducing Money Connoisseur, Gayle Reaume
I had the opportunity of having girl time via Skype with Gayle Reaume—and what a time was had! I forgot we were conducting an interview and weren’t long-time girlfriends thanks to her genuine, sweet spirit. I often speak of single moms and women, in general, finding their purpose in life and serving others. I got goose bumps when I read this quote from Gayle, “This is my purpose in life – to end generational poverty.” Gayle spilled the beans on everything Moolah U; her Austin, TX, based organization that does just that – ends generational poverty. The finance expert comes equipped with more than three decades of coaching, speaking, and small business management experience. Her concentration is assisting youth in gaining all around personal and financial development –making them responsible leaders, money managers, and business owners.
Iamebony.com: You’re known for being the financial maven, the one area many shy away from. Money and business are the two things that many are afraid of, especially when it does not come natural to you. What prompted your love for money, investments, and savings?
Gayle: It really was my daughter having a desire to understand it more deeply. I really don’t want her to have the same earn and spend cycle that I was stuck in: get up for work every day, get her ready for school, get her from school, work all day, come home…dinner, bath, start over the next day; it was so empty. I wasn’t happy with it—I didn’t really want her to inherit that. I saw that, that was an unconscious culture that we were living in as Americans, primarily, and there was not a lot of access to passion. I’m a firm believer that we are only here for a little bit. How we live our lives has to be driven by something, like what’s important to us…when something is important to them [kids] you do whatever there is to do to serve your children. I never would have done this if I didn’t have her, I swear. It was something bigger that was driving this.
Iamebony.com: You’re a mom. How did you start with her financial literacy?
Gayle: Yes. I got single when my daughter was 6. I raised her and started a company.
She saw me start a small investment club with friends as a hobby [20 years], we purchased stocks and made investments. She began to ask questions about money and we started exploring it together. She wanted to know why some people had more money than others, and so did I. It was a great question. My daughter got a target gift card when she was 10 and couldn’t invest the 10% from the gift card, but she went into her savings account and took the 10% there to invest it. It [saving’s and investing] became habit, that was her truth, it was the water she swam in and she went for it. She just did it.
Iamebony.com: How was Moolah U birthed: My daughter was curious about money. She and I started a little investment club [similar to the one with my girlfriends] because I knew how to make and spend money, but nothing beyond that. I started something with her and her friends after school. The kids became more and more curious about all these things: passive income, earned income, and businesses. I brought in a speaker who had a vending massage chair, and she told the kids how she invested in the machine, how she managed it, profit loss statements, etc. They were so excited and were like, we are [investment club] getting a massage chair. I told them well that’s probably not going to happen, but what about a bubble gum machine? So we got a bubble gum machine and put it in a popular restaurant, the kids serviced it, and they made money…I said, ” OH, that’s how you teach kids about money!” Business is the greatest teacher about money. We developed project based learning—a whole camp around it and it got national press in the Wall Street Journal. We were just pulled. I suddenly was looking at how to scale the company so it could go everywhere in the world.
Iamebony.com: How’d you know you were onto something that could change the way kids view money?
Gayle: I never would have pushed myself as hard,
it was something bigger that was driving this. Initially it was [her] questions and being able to come up with good questions with her [her daughter] and give her a life of financial stability and really create the proper formation of those beliefs for her. Ultimately, what I saw there was a demand for this in the world. When I went looking for a structured course or something could use to teach her, there wasn’t anything. Like any good entrepreneur, you see a need and you fill it. It was a relatively unintentional filling of that need, it was for selfish reasons, but it became quickly apparent that this is needed everywhere in the world. I found ways to use my energy to make a difference in the world.
How’d you come up with the name of your business?
Gayle: The name was originally,
The Money Academy. I didn’t even really love that name, but it was available when I was looking for a website…eight, nine, ten years ago. The Money Academy seemed to tell the story. We went along with that forever…2 years ago when we decided to franchise. We looked a lot of different ways to scale the company. First thing we had to do was come up with a name that wasn’t trademarked and it couldn’t be the word—money. We had to change the name and did a 3 month branding exercise, which was really good because we had to look at what does our brand mean, what do we want to be saying with our name? That’s where Moolah U came up. We tested it [Moolah U] on the kids and they loved it! They thought it was really fun, it made it sound real light and happy. Sometimes the concept of money can be kind of heavy, a little serious, and people shy away from it—even kids.
Iamebony.com: Let’s talk the Moolah U Camp. What is the greatest takeaway campers and parents would say after experiencing Moolah U camp?
Gayle: Wow. The greatest takeaway the kids will report is that they’ve gained a new understand of the value of money and they understand how to deal with breakdown and challenges better. It’s a safe place to fail. They’re going to go through the same challenges that any real entrepreneur will. In the general experience of kids, they aren’t allowed to fail and there’s little opportunity for them to experiment, play, and fail. They’re not allowed to have those breakdowns and react to them. They really enjoy that and get a lot out of that.
THE PARENTS: Parents report they [kids] are more responsible and independent. The nature of our camp, is kids do the projects themselves they [campers] are completely responsible for coming up with their product own idea: quality of product, quantity of product, how much they’ll charge, cost analysis, sell materials, improve quality, ROI, interest, they’ve got to come up with all of that themselves. They are incredibly independent. When kids leave they found that [fundamental understanding of money and personal responsibility in creating whatever they choose] in themselves and it carries over into their personal lives—deeply.
Iaembony.com: How do you find staff for Moolah U camp?
Gayle: Our club leaders and camp program leaders are hired seasonally, based on what program they’re involved in—it’s been a pretty easy systems so far because people flock to this, they love it! We don’t generally hire teachers’, per say. It’s an alternative school; not a typical teaching environment. We don’t ever stand in front of a classroom—there is no classroom, we don’t deliver content. We are socratic in that we introduce high level ideas and explore them with the kids and have them explore on their own. It’s difficult for teachers to operate in that context because they’re used to having to manage a classroom—we don’t ‘manage.’ We turn the management of their team over to them [the kids] really early in the camp. Far more people that are in alternative learning environment and that are interested in learning this for themselves. I was a teacher and it’s [teaching] very content based. The difference in teaching content based programs is that you have a personal relationship with [money], you’re on the exploration with them. Many people who work in our program report their own breakthroughs in their own relationship with money. If we wanted to hire the perfect people for this program, it would be an independently wealthy person, business leader, someone good with money—well they’re not gonna come lead a camp. A lot of our franchisees are moms that are interested in learning this for themselves and taking it into their own families.
Iamebony.com: What are 3 key points, you’d like for parents to know when it comes to financial literacy for their kids?
TRANSFER FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR KID: At age appropriate levels. Meaning, as soon as they’re interested in money start having them have them be involved in managing some of their own money for very simple things, like—you know maybe a friend’s birthday presents and putting them on a budget. Here’s how much I have and you can figure out how to spend this $10 or whatever amount it is. Have them manage that [money] and make decision, deal with the challenges that come with making those decision, as well as, the breakdowns—which are inevitable. Allow them to have the experience of money. We tend to want to protect them and control; afraid they’ll make mistakes—and they are! They’re going to make mistakes and you’ve got to let them make them while they’re young, it translates into life beyond money. Maria Montessori said something so powerful, and I read this in a Montessori school when picking up my friends daughter, “never do for a child, what they can do for themselves.” As parents, treat them as though they are fully capable and if they’re not they will learn how to get support—and that’s an important skill right there! They’ll learn an important skill—knowing when to ask for help and how to do that. I see now with teenagers and college kids that they’re out there in the world trying to make a go of it, and they don’t even know where to go or how to ask for help; they are struggling because they don’t know how to build community and support from around them.
ENCOURAGE SAVING AND 10% INVESTEMENTS: Encourage them to save 10%, almost make it mandatory that they save some of their money for investing. I think all parents are really great at savings—and charity, but generally when we encourage them to save; we are encouraging them to save so they can spend the money later, and that’s no different than spending it now—it’s still gone! Saving for a car; critically important. Saving for college; critically important. Saving money so that you can use it to purchase things later—learning delayed gratification is critically important. The only way out of the money trap is to use some of your money to make more money, which means it does not get spent it gets invested. That could be investing in a business, which is an asset, the stock market, or buying a bubble gum machine. Setting up a lemonade stand takes an investment, you’ve got to buy the ice, and you’ve got to buy the lemonade. Even if you loan them the money for the lemonade stand, be sure to get your money back with interest; otherwise, they’ve missed the lesson. Give them the experience to take some of their money to make more money. Teach them the profit and loss. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep. It’s not how much you keep, it’s how much that money makes. Show them the fundamental understanding of money, using some of it and making more.
- ALLOW THE MISTAKES: Instead of picking them up, be gracious—but charge them interest. When they [kids] run out of money that you’ve given them for spending, charge them interest and they’ll never get a credit card. College kids, this age group between 20 and 25 are more in debt than most Americans. Teach them the truth about credit and debt early by making them pay interest on any money they need to borrow from you, even if it’s 1%, something. Put the reality to it. Everything we do with our children is what they think is true in the world. Giving them money, not requiring them to pay it back, and not charge them interest; the lesson they got is, I can just borrow money and pay it back later. When that credit card application comes in the mail—BOOM! Do it before they’re 15 because they become really smart and you become really dumb. [laughter]
Iamebony.com: You mentioned early on in our interview that you weren’t comfortable being the CEO when you first began Moolah U. How did you switch your mindset when you began to franchise your company? Do you now feel more comfortable wearing that hat and how’d you become to do so?
Gayle: Yes, I knew a lot about marketing-that’s my degree. A natural fit for me.
Well, I was looking at selling the company, I took a year-long business development program. When the challenge came to brining this into other communities, I realized I had to become a different kind of leader for this company there were areas I didn’t understand a lot of challenges—I knew they were there but didn’t know how to access the tools for that without going to get an MBA or something. Through the program we learned: how to manage investments in your company, we had training in HR, strategic planning, marketing, how to grow team—we had phenomenal mentors, all women, successful business entrepreneurs and investors; who were right there with us through the year. I can still call upon these women and I still do. We meet regularly on our own to brainstorm different challenges in our businesses. Building a powerful network of other women entrepreneurs in all different fields. How I developed myself was I just chose to be that leader and then sought out everything I could to just step it up.
What’s next for Gayle and Moolah U: Begin a Franchise in your area, more info here! You’ll be learning from the best in the business and teaching your community financial literacy. Tell Gayle I sent ya.
Get Social With Gayle:
Website: Moolah U
Twitter: Moolah U