Author Photo_Paco de Leon (c) Jenn Pablo (1)

Episode Number: 253

Episode 253- How to Step Into Your Power, Follow Your Passion & Make a Good Living With Paco de Leon

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Pace de Leone 0:01

We've all had crazy thoughts. I remember sitting in staff meetings at my old job and thinking, like, what's the craziest thing I could do right now? And that doesn't mean you're going to do it, right? Like, we have a tendency to identify with our thoughts. And I think taking a step back and learning how to not identify with them so aggressively is, is really the first step, because then you can start to say, "Where do these thoughts come from? Are they like a tape that I've been playing in my brain for the last 20 years? Have I just been saying to myself, "You're not worthy. You're not enough. You're not worthy. You're not enough." Where did that come from?"

Intro 0:35

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one. Hey, Hey, Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast.

Jamila Souffrant 1:07

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned, and so much more. Also, whether you are An OG Journeyer or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a FREE Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Unknown Speaker 1:46

Hey, Hey, Journeyers. I'm so excited to have this week's guest on the podcast. I am talking to Paco de Leone. She is the author and illustrator of, "Finance For The People." Also, she's founded "The Hell Yeah Group," a financial firm focused on inspiring creatives to be engaged with their personal and business finances. After her experiences in small business consulting, financial planning and wealth management. She's also a TED speaker, whose work has been featured... everywhere: New York Times, New York Magazine, Time, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, Vice, Refinery29 and Business Insider. I'm really excited to talk to Paco today, because we have a lot in common, Paco, about our... the way we approach talking about money. I think, based on-- looking through your book and looking at your work, you really approach it from the personal side, from almost the inside out, while still giving strategy and, like, the overall things that we should know the practical tips. So I can't wait to dive into this conversation. So welcome to the podcast.

Pace de Leone 2:47

Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to just nerd out with you right now.

Jamila Souffrant 2:53

Yeah, so you have a experience that I think is really obviously helpful, in terms of being able to talk about finances. Where in you had real life experiences on the other side, like, in the corporate world of finance. And that is what also led you to now talk about it in a way where you can break it down so that it makes sense to the people, the common people. And I want to go back to that. Can you explain your history? And then what made you venture from that corporate, kind of, professional side of finance?

Pace de Leone 3:24

Yeah, my background feels really serious, doesn't it? Like I worked as a financial planner, and I worked in business consulting, but my decision to study finance and economics, you know, it came from a lot of the stories that I absorbed from my family growing up. I, I grew up from with two immigrant parents, and they came to America at very young ages, and they assimilated and the one thing that they instilled in me was the importance of education. And, you know, when you have immigrant parents, and those who are listening, probably know, there's this underlying understanding that, that you, you are to study something practical and useful and not, you know, what they viewed as risky, or maybe even frivolous, like art or music. And so, I chose finance and economics truly, because the clock was running. And I was like, "Oh no. I'm already going to be super senior here. I just need to pick something," and I was doing business classes. And so I was like, "Finance seems... finance seems intriguing, because there's all these people who seem, like, they don't have to be geniuses to make a bunch of money." And I was curious about that kind of flexibility, because, you know, I'm-- I've been a musician, pretty much, my whole life, and I wanted to, just, have space to create my art, but also, you know, put a roof over my head and put food in my belly. And so finance seemed like a practical, something I could always fall back on. And, you know, after that, I graduated actually the summer of 2008. You might remember that time. It's, you know, kind of when the ass fell out of the housing market and everything went to crap. I applied for a job at a small business consulting firm. And at that firm, I basically learned how to do bookkeeping for creative businesses. And I learned how to really run a business from the boring side, right? From the side of I have to open up mail from the IRS. From the side of, "What kind of insurance do you think we need for the kinds of risks we're taking?" After that stint, I worked as an assistant at of financial planning firm and a wealth management firm and, and then I created a new position as a Junior Financial Planner, because of course, Jamila, they can't just promote me to financial planning, right? I have to take a stepping, you know, create a step in order to do that. So, that's really where I got the real, real boots on the ground, practical experience. Was through these jobs. But what I quickly learned was, even if you have all of the information, that doesn't mean that you're totally equipped to manage your personal financial life.

Jamila Souffrant 6:00

That sounds pretty on target. And I think it's important, just also as an immigrant myself, and being raised by a single mom, who came here and sacrificed everything to get here. It was also pretty much, "Yeah, sure, you can have all the other things you do like the extracurricular," but education was the best investment, in terms of-- and not that she spent a lot of money on my education, like, I didn't go to private schools, but it was-- "I'm gonna send you to the best public schools, I can get you in, and you better study and get good grades.: And it wasn't as aggressive as that, but it did feel like a responsibility that I had to at least get good grades, go pick a major that made sense, which was Business Management, didn't have a clue what I was going to do with that, but I was like, "I'm gonna go and work in an office so I can make as much money as I can." So I know a lot of people can relate to that experience. And, you know, it's interesting, because I also find that because of that experience, where our immigrant parents don't understand the financial system or weren't given the tools, we as, like, the first generation to go to college here, have then graduated, probably with a lot of debt, because at any cost, it didn't mean it, you know, by any means, necessarily. We're gonna get that lawyer degree, doctor degree, engineer degree. And so I think that's like the burden our generation of kids of immigrants are facing now. But hopefully, you know, I have kids that will learn from and they'll learn for sure not to do that, too.

Pace de Leone 7:22

Yeah, absolutely. You know, with each generation, there's progress. And, you know, I think there were just so many unknown unknowns, and our parents were doing the best they could with the information they got, and that they had, and they were saying, you know, "Of course, we should value education." And it just points to a larger societal issue of, you know, the question, "Why would we be charging people this much money for education?" Because it's actually better for the entire country if we could all have access to education, but I know, I'm preaching to the choir here.

Jamila Souffrant 7:53

Yeah. Yeah. I do want to touch upon, so you spent some years now helping other people, other companies, businesses, with their finances professionals. And you saw that it didn't translate. When you say that it didn't, like, translate just because you understood it yourself. Are you referring more to, like, your colleagues, seeing how they were not able to manage their finances? Like, what for you pulled you into the more personal finance space? And going out on your own on this?

Pace de Leone 8:20

Well, I think I was-- I'm very fascinated by human behavior. That's one of the reasons why I decided to study economics, in addition to finance. Was because economics, it's the study of human behavior, but through the lens of data and numbers. We're really asking the question of, like, "Why did people behave in that way?" And that was-- I'm just so curious about what motivates us. Why do we not act in our best interest when we have the information? So that was the question that kept popping up. Like, "Why do people spend outside of their means when they-- when they have the rational information, right, that you should not live with outside of your means?" Why do I do that, right? Questions, or like, I would see it on both ends. People who grew up in poverty, they look as if they're acting, not in their best interest. People who grew up with a ton of money, lots of generational wealth, they're somehow also not, not acting within their best interests. And so, what I discovered through just talking to people, teaching people, doing workshops, running my business and taking on clients was, we're all a little weird about money. And it is our duty to unearth that, right? To try to discover that aspect of who we are. And that's how we're going to level up in life, whether it's with finances, or running a business, or being in a healthy relationship. We're constantly going to confront these narratives, and you know, they're-- they may look like one thing, but they show up in other areas of our lives. And that's why this is-- this work is so important to me.

Jamila Souffrant 9:58

And when you transitioned out of that professional space. So you are a financial planner too?

Yeah, yeah.

So you did get your license and then you transition now to then start your own company and what I really find fascinating, or just, because I know so many creatives... me, now, I feel like being one of those creatives, but also very logistical and working with money, is that I'll have creatives who listen. So maybe, you know, their passion is in the arts, and they're not earning a lot of money. So they want to understand, "How can I reach the level of freedom or independence that you talk about, Jamila, with this inconsistent income? Where creatives don't earn a lot? How are we supposed to do what you're doing unless we go to the grand stage, right? Like we're at a concert level?" So with that, how-- can you talk about that transition? Like, your focus is helping creatives, but what does that look like? And then I would love to talk about more, like, finances for creatives, and how to help them.

Pace de Leone 10:54

So, the way that I work with creative professionals is really two ways. The first way is what you are experiencing inside of your ears right now. It's, I give talks, and I create content. And I'm just out and proud and loud in the world about this information, right? And some of its very practical, like how to strategize, right? How to save for taxes, or, like you just asked, how do you manage a budget or living, rather, on inconsistent income, right? How do we tackle those practical things? And the other way that I help creative professionals is, I run a bookkeeping agency called, "Hell Yeah Bookkeeping," and we manage the bookkeeping, and the accounting for production companies and creative agencies and design studios and all of those kinds of creative professional businesses. And I guess the bigger question you're asking is, how does one make a living in a life being a creative professional? Like, you kind of hinted at earlier, a lot of this stuff is is very personal. You need to decide and choose what is right for you. And one of the big hurdles I think a lot of creative professionals deal with is, when you are a creative entrepreneur, you are an entrepreneur, and when you are an artist, you are an artist. And those two identities can be really challenging. And the creative entrepreneur has to listen to the market, they have to understand that they are taking their artistic tendencies, and they're bringing it into the world of commerce. And you're gonna have to make compromises and concessions. And there are things that you-- clients you might have to work with that you maybe don't want to work with, and figuring out how to navigate that is really important figuring out how to undo this concept of, if I'm a creative person who creates a thing, right? The thing I create is, it's me, right? It's who I am. It's my, it's my soul. It's my blood, sweat, tears, it's who I am. And then you're asking money for that. There's this whole narrative of like, other people not seeing me as worthy, because they don't want to pay that price. So there's a lot of that, kind of, untangling and inward looking that I think one has to take, and one has to do, in order to decide if this is the path they want to go on. Because for me, I love playing music. And I don't want to be a working class musician. I don't want to leave my wife and family to go on the road and play songs for people. I, I don't necessarily want the, the struggle, I guess, maybe that's a narrative that I need to undo. But, I like that my job is to sit and pontificate with people like you, right? To write content, to write books. That to me is exciting. And then that frees me up to then and go use my art to process my life. That's what's so important to me. And, I mean, you'd have to pay me a ton of money to take that away, or to bring that into the forum of, of commerce and make me start to compromise my way of processing.

Jamila Souffrant 13:59

Okay, I love that you're bringing this up. I have a sister, Shaina. She's gonna have to listen to this. I'm gonna tell her. She's a dancer. I mean, that's her primary love. And she would love to earn money, full time, from dancing. And I think she's, she's realizing though, she, she needs other things. So she has started to develop her portfolio in a way in which she's, she's got her license as a life coach. She's very talented, especially for her age, like, in what she does, and I can see and I have so many people who listen, who are facing the same thing. Like, "Do I pursue this thing I love and continue at it and earn a living from it." And especially in a world in which, you know, majority of the dancers she knows --they're not making a lot of money, right? Based on the lifestyle she wants. And so, it feels like, on the other end, "Okay, then that means I need to go get a nine to five." Whatever that looks like. And for her-- it could still be a creative nine to five, doesn't have to be in an office, but you have to earn a living. And I think so many people are faced with, "Do I continue to pursue this passion, because I know there are some people who make a great living out of it. And maybe there is some sacrifice, based on, like, where they're doing it and the level and how much they travel, or should I separate this?" And then, "And maybe, it's not something I do all day, because I have to work. But it's something that I can pour into and do on the side, or on the weekends, when I have time."

Pace de Leone 15:21

Yeah. That's a really personal question that people have to answer. And I actually have a lot of friends who are professional dancers. And they, of course, they dance. That's one of the main things that they do, but they have to do other things, you know, that-- I have a group of dancer friends who, you know, they're judges on this convention circuit, which I didn't really know about. Where all these kids, I guess, in major cities or cities across America go and they, kind of, take big classes, and they're there to teach them choreo and to, I guess, judge these large competitions, and they're gone a lot of weekends out of the year. And that's how they're making it. Or, you know, they might love to do contemporary dance with a company, but then they have to take on some of these commercial gigs, where they're, you know, they're an extra in Glee or something like that. I think it's possible. It's, it's entirely possible to make a living doing something that you're passionate about, but you, you just have to accept that if that's what you're going to do, that you are converging art and commerce. And you're going to have to make some compromises along the way.

Jamila Souffrant 16:33

Yeah. I think it's practical, you know. It's not something, maybe, you want to hear, but I think it's real life. I want to go back to unearthing our feelings around money. And because this can relate to anyone, whether you're a creative, and part, part of me feels like, even if you do have a more practical, tactical job, like, there's a part of you that's creative, because I don't-- I don't know a child that's not creative. It's just that we, we, kind of, grow up and, like, we're not, we don't focus on that anymore, but it's inside of us. And I think once we can tap into that, it can propel our careers in many great ways, which then hopefully, can equate to money. But, with that, how does one then now, like, sit down and really start to think about what's holding them back when it comes to confronting their desires for their life, like, "I want this thing, but I'm doing this behavior. "So there's a gap between what I want and what I'm currently doing, and it's emotional, mental, but they don't know what that is, how does one start to unearth that? You know, we can't answer all those questions right now on this podcast, but how does one begin to ask themselves or discover what's really the issue?

Pace de Leone 17:34

I think every person is going to choose tools that work for them when it comes to learning how to do this inner inquiry work. I'm happy to share what has worked for me. And with each season of my life, I find different tools that work for me. But one of the things that I started doing about 10 years ago is, I would just plop down on a cushion, and close my eyes, and just white knuckle it through 20 minutes of meditation. Just struggling, just feeling like I'm being thrown around by the waves of thoughts. And that's, kind of, part of the practice. Is sitting there and just trying to be still and let your thoughts pass like clouds in the sky. I think that's one way to really bring down the chatter in your own mind. And one way to really tell your thoughts that, "Hey yeah, I get it. You're here. I'll never, ever ditch you, but you are just a thought." We've all had crazy thoughts. I remember sitting in staff meetings, at my old job and thinking, like, "What's the craziest thing I could do right now?" And that doesn't mean you're going to do it, right? Like, we have a tendency to identify with our thoughts. And I think, taking a step back, and learning how to not identify with them so aggressively is, is really the first step, because then you can start to say, "Where do these thoughts come from? Are they like a tape that I've been playing in my brain for the last 20 years? Have I just been saying to myself, "You're not worthy, you're not enough? You're not worthy? You're not enough?" Where did that come from?" And that's really the next phase that I stepped into was, looking at the narratives I have around money. And for me, journaling was really helpful, right? Asking myself, "Paco, why don't you feel like you deserve certain things." And this is an ongoing conversation that I have with myself, like, I mean, it'll be anything. It's, it feels innocuous, right? Like a nice mug, like, this nice mug that I have is created by this artist, local artists here. And it's an expensive-- for a mug, you know, it's like, you know, anywhere between $45 and $90. And I remember hemming and hawing and standing in the store saying, "Should I get this mug for myself?" I had the money. I could afford it, but I didn't know if I deserved it. And so when you, one, learn how to just look at your thoughts, two, you can start to catch them as you're you know, really living your life. But I do think It requires that practice, right? Journaling has been a great thing for me. I want to normalize therapy and say, everybody should go to therapy, if only to understand their own feelings. It doesn't mean we're messed up. It shouldn't have a negative connotation. I think therapy is, kind of, like going to the gym, right? You go to the gym to learn how to hold your skeleton using your muscles, and maybe lift things, and stretch. And going to therapy is the same thing. It's like learning how to be like, "What's this feeling I have in my body? And how do I sit with it? And should I do something about it? Or should I just accept it." And at this point, I'm rambling, but all of this is really important, because it goes back to what I was saying earlier. It can help you get to the root of, "Why am I acting in a way that's not in my best interest?" You might just be playing this story over and over again. And you have these subconscious beliefs that are holding you back. And it looks like you're not acting within your best interest.

Jamila Souffrant 21:01

It's interesting, because while there is a lot of talk around, not spending money and being able to cut your expenses back, or earn more so you can, can get on top of your finances. I think there are a lot of people who, like, in your situation, don't know how to spend money, like, in a way that feels good. And they have it. It's not like you don't have it. I'm, kind of, one of those people when it comes to certain things. And I often try to distinguish, "Am I just lazy, like, literally, like, you need new sneakers, like, I don't understand. Like, just go buy new sneakers." And literally I will walk around with, like, you know, sneakers for years without changing them. And so. is this like a deep rooted emotional issue? Or am I just lazing and I really don't care, right? It's like these questions and things about our personality. Where I think, for some people, it's like, sitting down and getting to the root of it. Seeing what the patterns are. I think sometimes part of it is, like, this hard to find the middle ground. Like it's some-- for some people, it's like, they're gonna do it all, or they're not gonna do anything. Like, but what is that middle ground? And sometimes stepping your toe into, like, that, feels scary, because you're afraid that you may just go all out. And now that I'm saying this out loud, like, I'm wondering if that for me, is some of it. Like, "Oh, if I start indulging in this way, for something that I never cared about all these years, what happens next? Am I gonna be one of those people that need new sneakers every month? Like, I don't want to do that." Right? So yeah, I think it's interesting to talk about. We need to normalize this.

Pace de Leone 22:29

Yeah, that sneaker thing sounds like a slippery slope.

Unknown Speaker 22:33


Pace de Leone 22:35

I mean, just to add to, to what you're just saying, I think for a lot of people, taking that first step is really hard, right? There's, maybe they have trauma around money, right? I've heard some crazy stories about children who grew up in abusive households with alcoholism, and you know, parents, who would fight violently whenever the subject of money came up. And so for those people the, like, literally money is not safe for them. Because anytime it was brought up, it resulted in, in abuse. And so for those people, you know, I definitely encourage you to, to work with a trauma specialist, and try to uncover what's going on there, so that you can heal those wounds. I think, another thing I think is not normal in society is talking about our pain and the importance of healing our wounds, and that could really set us free from a lot of the things, the ways the ways that we're acting and behaving that seem where we struggle with controlling.

Jamila Souffrant 23:33

And with the wound part of us and/or these unique things that make us, us. One of the things that stood out for me with your book is, like, the beautiful drawings and the way you distilled complex topics into very simple. So, this video should be coming out, so you can check out the You-- on my YouTube channel, and you can see, like, the cover of the book, or you can just buy it, and we'll talk more about that. But you know, you merged and found a lane for yourself for talking about finances, and illustrating things in a way that is unique. Like, you know, like, I don't know, too many people in this space doing it this way. And it makes me think of all, you know, creatives, or people who have different interests, where they can merge those talents. Like you in illustration, and being an artist with finances. Merge that and that's unique. And there's just so many different and wild, beautiful combinations people can come up with to give themselves a life, but they think it has to be either/or in, like, in a silhouette, like, you know, in one lane and they don't think they can merge. So I'd love to talk about how you find a way to merge that and tips for other people who have different talents. And it's, like, "Maybe there's something I could do with these two things that no one's done before."

Unknown Speaker 24:48

I mean, it sounds really cliche to give the advice or to say the trope of like, the more I was myself, the more I just leaned into who I was. The more I got to know myself, and the more I was just myself out loud, the more everything unfolded for me, but that's the honest truth. When I was working as a financial planner, I was this verry-- I was trying to be a serious person, you know? Like, very serious, like in the office like, "Hi. Trust me." And, you know, in retrospect, I was a weird robot. No wonder people didn't want to work with me. Or I was having-- I was struggling back then, is because I was trying to be a person that was not natural to me. And, you know, I'm sure the vibes were weird for other people who were, who were receiving them. And honestly, when I-- like I said before, when I started to just sitting quietly, every day, I, I was just listening to my intuition. It helped me listen to my intuition more. And what kept bubbling up was, "Why don't you try this finance with, for creatives thing? Like, who knows what it's gonna look like." And it's gone through many iterations. "Who knows what it'll look like, but, just, throw it out there and see what happens." And so I went, and I, I started to tell my friends, "Hey, I think I'm gonna be a financial planner for creatives. I'm gonna hang out my own shingle, and I'm gonna see what happens." And so many of my friends, they were like, "Go post in this Facebook group and talk to this person." And honestly, in a year, I had a roster. I had, like, 30 clients or something crazy like that. And I quickly learned, "Oh no. Actually, I don't want to work with clients in this way. I think that there's another way." And so I learned about online marketing. I learned about content creation. And so I started to put out content. I started writing blog posts, and I put out a weekly newsletter. And slowly that kind of turned into its own thing. And I discovered, "Oh wait. That's like a whole job. It's not just to get clients. You can make stuff and people will pay you for the stuff that you make. Like, that's kind of insane." So I started to explore that. And so for me, the decision to work with creatives, which I think is unique, and my approach, deciding to incorporate drawings, it's all been really organic and natural. Like, I just tapped my community when it came to, I want to work with creatives, it's because I'm always around them. My wife's an interior designer, all of my best friends are musicians, or they studied drums or creative writing or painting. And so I just happen to be the one weirdo who has the finance degree in this group of creatives. And it continues to happen. I show up at dinner parties, or cocktail parties, or conferences, and it's all creative people, and then, you know, me. And it just naturally works that way. So lean into whatever community you're tapped into, lean into that. And follow, follow that-- and follow your intuition and listen to your intuition. And part of the reason why I started to incorporate the drawings, was because I had this-- I have this deep, burning desire, as a human being, to be understood by other human beings. I want nothing more than to be fully seen and understood. And, I guess, I want that when it comes to trying to explain compound interest and, and, you know, how to wrap your head around a fully amortized loan. I really want people to get this stuff. And just one day, I thought, "What if I made like a sketch," you know? And so, I made a little sketch and, and then it just grew and grew and grew and grew. And I connected with this eight year old Poco, who, just, used to love to draw Ninja Turtles, right? And it's been amazing to reconnect with that person.

Jamila Souffrant 28:27

Yeah, and what I'm hearing too, is the iterations. Like, you're not gonna, you know, it's not going to always be the first thing that's the final thing. Most times, it's not. You have to walk forward, try different things before you can get to this thing that you want. And I think as creatives, I know, as creative, at least from my work, it's never good enough. Like, I'm like, "Oh, like, it needs to be this thing. It's not perfect." And other people may compliment it. I'm just like, "No, it's really... I don't think it's that good." But if I were to wait to put this podcast out until I thought it was perfect, I would have never started the podcast. Like, I literally, just, every week, I'm just like, "Oh, gosh, like, I don't want to hear my voice." And and people are, people still don't believe that when I say it. And I'm like, I listen. It is true. Like, I've had to let go of the perfectionism of from where I am right now, to where I see what I want myself to be and Journey To Launch to be. And I think a lot people are stuck as creatives. They want to be a certain way, going back to-- I'm not picking on Shaina, my sister, but I'm just gonna-- I'm just gonna say this, because I think it's going to help. She has, like such, like, I'll say to her, like, "You should do this thing." And she, kind of, wants to. Like, maybe it's a dance or something she can put out there. But she's so critical of it. And I'm like, "Okay, I know you and your dancer friends have a different level of what's supposed to happen. But for me, this is amazing. Like, most people would think this is amazing." And you know, but, it's that level of critique. And when you love something so much, but then sometimes it prevents you from putting out there and letting it blossom in the world.

Unknown Speaker 29:55

Yeah, you have to find the balance, right? You have to find the balance between being thoughtful about what you're creating, making sure it's high quality, and then shipping. And I mean, I love-- you know, the podcast is a great way to just force yourself into that level of discomfort, because, people, ears want, want more podcast. So, I think it's-- I mean, that's what I love about putting out a weekly newsletter. Is it forces me to, to ship something every week, right? To have an idea, and to pontificate on it and share it with my audience. And it's a good, creative practice to have. And one other thing I just wanted to add to what you're saying is, I once went to a conference and I heard somebody say... sorry, I don't know who to attribute this quote, too. I heard them say, "To be a creative person is to live a life intention." Right? You're, you're, kind of, caught between your thoughts and your ideas, and what you're trying to express and then actually expressing it and, and sometimes waiting for the response after you've shipped the thing. And I think if we can accept that, like, to be a creative person is to live a life intention. If you accept that as part of the game, I think it makes it a lot easier.

Jamila Souffrant 31:05

I love that. And even with finances, as we transition a bit to talking about some practical things for people with their money. I also believe that, you know, for me, I'll speak personally, but money is also tension, like, you know, there are some days where I feel fully secure with what I have in investments, in my bank account, and what's potentially going to come in, and what my future looks like. And then there are some days where I'm like, "Oh. Like, Is this enough? Like, am I-- should I not do this? Should I invest more?" Like, and a lot of people will come to me and say, "Well, I don't know. Like, I sometimes-- I don't know what I'm doing," and, or, "I feel so insecure with my money." And part of me just feels like, that's normal. And I think because people think it's not normal, they think they're doing it wrong. And it's just like, it's part of the journey. It's part of the process.

Pace de Leone 31:53

Absolutely. It happens to me all the time. One of the things that I've been doing to help me through those moments of like, "What the hell am I doing? Am I okay, right? Am I okay?" moment, I just take take a deep breath and say, "You're safe right now, dude. Like, you're not-- like, you're good. In this moment, you're safe," and just come from that space. And then, I, if there's something practical I need to do, right? Like, I don't know, rollover for 401k or something like that, then I'll do it. But that just helps kind of quiet the the nervous system and make me feel, like, ready to march forward and do the practical thing.

Jamila Souffrant 32:27

That's so-- you're safe right now. So before we get ahead of ourselves, and start thinking about the worst case scenarios, and things that may not happen, it's breathe back into your body. Meditate, close your eyes, or just, like, at least taking the moment, like, if you are having those feelings of overwhelm about your money, or life, career. Hopefully, you are safe right now, but you're safe right now. You're safe right now. I love that. Okay, so let's talk about a little bit of some practical things when it comes to. So I'm going to read this from your book, "Getting a grip on your finances." So you have on the cover, "Adjusting your belief, stepping into your power, navigating an unequal system." So I know that's also important for you, that you bring up. So, for someone listening, and he was like, "Alright, Paco and Jamila. I'm ready. Let's do this!" What are some of the first steps they should do now when they are trying to become better with their money and get a grip on their finances?

Pace de Leone 33:20

I think the number one thing that somebody could do right now, who hasn't been very active in managing their financial life, or addressing their relationship with money, the best thing you can do right now, is to open up your calendar, I'll wait-- go ahead and open it up. If it's a paper planner, go grab it. If it's a calendar app, pop it open. Look at your calendar, you know, and find a time that you can dedicate at least 20 minutes to every week for what I call, "Weekly Finance Time." And it's exactly what it sounds like. It's at least 20 minutes every week, that you've carved out, that you've set aside, that you are dedicating to yourself and your growth and you're keeping it sacred. That you're going to show up and you're just going to start giving one single crap about it. And that's how you can do it, right? And whenever I recommend this, I always think, "Is this good advice to recommend to people? It sounds so silly to ask them to carve out the time," but it's so important, because you are showing yourself that you are willing to invest your time and your energy in yourself. Okay, great. So now you have 20 minutes, let's say Wednesday at four o'clock. You've scheduled it, for 20 minutes. What are you going to do during this time? Well, the first thing you could do is just make sure you have all your bank logins. I know a lot of folks who don't have all their logins and that is a barrier in their mind as to why they can't go figuring out how to manage their credit card debt, or figuring out what to do with a student loan payment plan that could be more aggressive, or even just, you know, figuring out a spending plan. They don't have their logins. Okay, great. You have the first 20 minutes, figure out your log ins. Set up a password manager. Next time, just look at your accounts. Just log in and just start putting your eyeballs on the accounts. And you are training yourself, right? It's like, it's as if you're going to the gym, right? And I'm not asking you to do 15 pull ups and to squat your own bodyweight on the first day. No, I'm just asking you to, like, look, fly, get a cute outfit, just walk around the gym. Look at the things, look at the people, you know, and I don't know, stretch out the hammies. Just-- it doesn't have to be aggressive. Just, you know, check it off the box. Okay, cool. And now you know what it's like to go to the gym looking fly and stretching your hamstrings. Cool. Maybe next time, we'll do 10 sit ups or something like that. And so weekly finance time, I think is just, kind of, a gateway to get started. And, of course, you can spend the time reading "Finance For the People," you can spend the time going through the exercises. You can spend the time, again, rolling over an old 401k, setting up a spending plan. The other thing I love about weekly finance time, is if you have a partner and you're trying to manage joint finances, even if not all of your finances are joint finances, maybe only some of them are, it is an excellent idea to pre plan when you will have conversations about money, because nobody, most people, maybe not nobody. Most people, they might feel bamboozled if they're, like, folding laundry in the evening, and their partner comes up and they're just like, "Hey, what is this $50 you spent on Guitar Center?" Or whatever it is. It doesn't even have to be accusatory. It could be them saying, "I think we should, I don't know, split the renter's insurance," or something like that. If you pre plan when you're going to have these conversations, everybody, the parties involved, get a chance to, kind of, mentally prepare for what's about to happen. And it gives you time to, like, bring things to the table. Yeah, that's the first thing that I think folks should do: Weekly finance time.

Jamila Souffrant 37:01

And relating it to the gym is so smart, because when you do go to the gym, especially if you don't go. You're not expecting to, you know, work out the same capacity as a person who's been going for 10 years. And so, that's important to know that it's going to take time, you're not going to do everything. Even if you are really great at going to the gym. And working out. You don't do every exercise in every part of your body. I mean, some people do, but you don't do it, you don't do all the things in one day. You break it up. You break it up over time. And so half the time too, even for me, because I do work out. Is, like, getting over the mental hurdle of getting there. Which is the same thing as, like, when you're thinking about your money. A lot of times, I know it feels more overwhelming, it is overwhelming, so, but, it feels more heavy than it actually is when you do it. So it's like, "Oh, that's literally-- I was, like, putting this off for how much time? And it was, like, this simple to do." How many times have we done that?

Pace de Leone 37:56

Absolutely. Yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 37:58

But I want to get back to just like people who have inconsistent incomes. How are they to create the spending plan or look at their money, when they don't know-- or have a consistent cash flow? You know? What's coming in. How would you say for them to start this process.

Pace de Leone 38:15

So, we're probably talking about freelancers and self employed folks, or maybe even people who get bonuses. So maybe their income is not as, like you just said, consistent. I think coming up with a spending plan, where you look at your money in three main buckets is a really good way to wrap your head around how much you need to be earning.

The first bucket would be essentials, what you need to be human on Earth.

The second bucket would be non-essentials. So fun things, like pizza with friends, a pack of beer, maybe, or beers with friends. Your hobbies, your vices, anything that is not essential, but it's nice to have, because it makes a life a life.

And then the third is going to be your goals and, you know, what you want to save for for the future.

When you're making inconsistent income, you have to figure out, I have to at least be consistent enough to hit that first bucket, always. Otherwise, it's like a shark in the water or blood in the water with the shark nearby. Sorry to be so violent, but it means that you are putting yourself at risk to go into debt, because you're not meeting that first bucket, right? That's the way that I would think about that. Of course, it is my dream that everybody who is working for themselves, learn and understand what it takes to build a consistent, consistent income, right? That they're making so much money each month, that they can just put themselves on a payroll and that payroll is then consistent. If I could just talk a little bit more about that larger strategy. Is that cool with you?

Jamila Souffrant 39:45

We should, because that's, that's what's gonna allow it to be consistent: Is the bigger business strategy. So yes.

Pace de Leone 39:51

Right. Okay. So one of the things I've run into with a lot of creative folks and yeah, mostly creative folks and folks who are self employed is, they'll come to me or they'll email me and say, "Paco, you know, I'm having a cash flow problem," or they're not saying the words cash flow, but the way that they're describing it is, "I can't manage the money," and all this, you know, it's the cash flow, that's the issue. And I can see what they're saying, but really, when you step back, and you kind of analyze the larger issue, they have a marketing problem with, you know, they're having a revenue problem. They don't have enough money coming in to meet their needs and, therefore, that's why there's a cash flow scramble. They're trying to figure out how to pay bills and manage things and it's on a thin margin. And so, one of the things that I as I, you know, I spend time walking around thinking about my fellow creative people and their money. And one of the things I thought about one time was like, "Oh, marketing is the mother of revenue. Marketing is the mother of revenue," especially when you're self employed. And it's scary to market, I get it. It feels-- it might not feel natural to you, because, maybe, you're seeing people do it in a certain way. Maybe you're seeing people on TikTok dance and point around and you think, "There's not a snowflakes chance in hell that I'm going to do that." And that's fine. You don't have to do that, but just understand that once again, if you are participating in commerce, in our capitalist society, you do have to figure out how to get a pipeline of people who want to buy your product or service. You have to get them interested, right? You have to get them not just interested, but then willing and able to open up their wallets and give you that money. And you do that through relationship building, right? Like, literally, this is a great example. I'm on this podcast, I'm saying, "Hi, my name is Paco. I'm dropping these nuggets for you that maybe they're going to blow your mind, maybe you're going to implement them." And my hope, I'm going to be very transparent. My hope is that you'll be walking around outside in, like, 30 minutes or something, just chewing on this podcast being, like, "Wow, that that Paco said some interesting things, "I'm going to buy her book," right? That's-- this is a perfect example of, of marketing, why it's important, and how it then impacts your bottom line. For some folks, we're going to run into ourselves and our own issues, right? For me, it's like, " Uh. I have to be seen." I like to be seen, but I hate to be seen. And so, just confronting that and dealing with that and journaling about that is, is the ways that we work through it.

Jamila Souffrant 42:20

Yes! I'm so glad you brought up, just, you know, we're talking about how to help people with an inconsistent income, but and how they can manage that. But the broader conversation about, okay, but if you're choosing to do this, then let's figure out why you're having the inconsistent income. Is it the marketing? Is it the pricing? You know, like, are you under charging? Or is--some, some people, like, the market, is the market. Meaning, the market price for what people are typically buying for whatever they're selling, and they have to either go to get a new type of customer, or sell something different. There's so, there's so much to this, and you don't have to figure it out all today, guys, but it is something that you, you start thinking about, if you are having this issue.

Pace de Leone 43:01

I just wanted to add one more thing about that. In the book, I have a whole chapter that is encouraging people to reframe how they think about earning money, because as you know, that's, that's one of the most important things is making enough money is going to allow you to make financial decisions, make investments and save. But one of the things that I try to encourage people to think about is, think about earning money and revenue streams as, like, an experiment. You're just running an experiment. You have an idea, you don't know if people are gonna buy. You think this audience will buy, great, just, run an experiment. Put up a webpage, or talk to people, or offer a program, put it in beta. Like you were saying earlier, you have to just start and you have to put it out there and then your audience will respond and then you adjust accordingly.

Jamila Souffrant 43:46

Right. Don't overthink it. I know-- I advice I need to also take. So the navigating in an unequal system. I just want to spend a couple of minutes here. I mean, it can deserve its own episode, because I just feel like this is a struggle for a lot of people who are very conscious about the world and the inequalities in it. And there's this idea that we are here. We're in a capitalist society, whether we like it or not, and how can we then make sure that we're okay, our community is okay, our families are okay. And navigate within this? So just want to hear your thoughts around that for people who actually struggle with having to participate in this when they don't like the way the system is set up.

Pace de Leone 44:29

Well, we all have a choice. And if you don't want to participate in the system, there are definitely alternative communities that you can belong to. There's intentional housing communities where you're basically living on a commune and you share duties, raising kids and cooking and cleaning. There's lots of different options, I think, for people to explore, and it doesn't have to be that extreme, but we are talking about people feeling the struggle with participating in capitalism. That's one way, right? Just opt out. Something a little bit more practical is, we have to accept the fact that there is always going to be a way in which we are compromising our values within this system. Even investing, you know, people ask me all the time, "How can I invest in a way that's socially responsible? And, you know, that's not bad for society and, and the planet?" And and all of this? And my answer is a little bit unfortunate. It's that we have to realize that the mechanism for you to profit in the stock market is exploitative in and of itself, regardless of whether that company plants a tree, or regardless of whether that company, you know, invests in their workers, because at the end of the day, if you are making a profit off of that company, they're extracting the wealth, right? They're extracting the the profit created by workers, and then they're giving it to you. So, I think what we need to do is, accept that with every good thing in life, there are bad things. And I know you're like me, I don't necessarily like to label things good and bad. But there's, there's just this acceptance that you have to, kind of, work with, right? You have to sit with and a lot of people want some nice ribbon on how to reconcile on equal an unequal society. There's no ribbon, it's not nice, it's messy. We all make decisions that feel right for us, right? Some people want to put all their money in a credit union. Some people want to volunteer their time helping the unhoused. You have to do what's right for you. But you also have to realize that here's this tension, again, to bring it up, right? That's what it is. That's what it's like to be in the modern world.

Jamila Souffrant 46:54

And just a reference, Rachael Rogers, she's been on the podcast, and she wrote the book, "We Should All Be Millionaires," she takes the approach that, well, we're in the system, it's unequal. So why don't we.. why, why, why can't we be the ones with all the money? And then-- the good ones when-- again, I'm quoting that, because we all have our, you know, good and not so good things about us. But then we can then deploy our money in ways that can help more people, because if the creatives and the people who really want to make a change, never make money, you know, who actually want to do something for the world never make the money and it stays in the hands of the few who don't care, then how is that going to help? We do need to then encourage ourselves and the people around us and people of color and women and, and, and men who actually want to do something in this world, to make more money and then, then though, use that money in a way that helps others

Pace de Leone 47:41

I could not agree more. I love Richard Rogers. Huge fan. Yes, we need, we need to create the means of production. We need to own the means of production. We need to disseminate the money into the things that we value. And I could not agree more. That's exactly how we create change.

Jamila Souffrant 47:57

Yes, okay. So, Paco, please tell everyone a little bit, just, about, like, the book itself. Like who's it for? It's so comprehensive, I must say, like, you literally touch on, like, every subject. And where they can find it, when it's out.

Pace de Leone 48:08

The book is called, "Finance For the People." It is a comprehensive guide for anyone who's looking to improve their relationship with money, or folks who are looking to tackle, you know, their personal financial planning for the very first time. I think it's great for folks at all levels. I think it's great for folks who are just beginning and those who are trying to stay inspired and stay on track. They'll definitely get a few nuggets. And yes, it's quite comprehensive. I tried not to make it that comprehensive, but I couldn't... I couldn't do it to, you guys. And you can buy it wherever you buy books.

Jamila Souffrant 48:43

Right and what's your on site and social, so they can like follow you?

Pace de Leone 48:47

I'm on Instagram @thehellyeahgroup. I am mostly not on Twitter, but trying to be @hellyeahgroup and you can sign up for my newsletter. It goes out every Wednesday, and you can sign up for it at

Jamila Souffrant 48:59

Awesome. Thank you so much, Paco. This was delightful and I know that people will get a lot from this. So thanks.

Pace de Leone 49:04

Thank you so much. This was my pleasure.

Jamila Souffrant 49:10

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your Jumpstart Guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show: One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple Podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple Podcasts, rate, review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you. Sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.

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Paco de Leon, author of Finance For The People and creator of  The Hell Yeah Group, a financial firm focused on inspiring creatives to be engaged with their personal and business finances joins the podcast to discuss the importance of creatives being more involved with their money management– in both their personal and professional lives.

Paco de Leon has experience in small business consulting, financial planning and wealth management. She’s also a TED speaker, whose work has been featured in New York Times,  Time, Forbes and Business Insider… just to name a few.

If you’re a creative, small business owner or freelancer looking to learn how to get more involved with your personal and business finances, this episode is for you!

In this episode we discuss:

  • How to unearth what’s holding you back when it comes to your desires and money
  • Learning how to detach yourself from identifying so heavily with your thoughts 
  • What being a creative entrepreneur means + the different challenges they face
  • Navigating the false narrative that creative entrepreneurs are not worthy of making money with their offerings + more

I'm Listening to Episode 253 of the Journey to Launch Podcast, How to Step Into Your Power, Follow Your Passion & Make a Good Living With Paco de Leon Click To Tweet

Other related blog posts/links mentioned in this episode:

  • Grab Paco de Leon’s book, Finance for the People: Getting a Grip on Your Finances, here
  • Check out The Hell Yeah Group, here
  • Join the waitlist for my signature course, Map Your Way To Financial Independence, here.
  • Check out my new personal website here.
  • Join The Weekly Newsletter List
  • Leave me a voicemail– Leave me a question on the Journey To Launch voicemail and have it answered on the podcast!
  • Watch me on News12  Watch my latest segments on News12
  • YNAB –  Start managing your money and budgeting so that you can reach your financial dreams. Sign up for a free 34 days trial of YNAB, my go-to budgeting app by using my referral link.

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