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Book Club featuring Janine Firpo

George Grombacher March 5, 2022

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Book Club featuring Janine Firpo

On this edition of the Book Club, Janine Firpo talks about her book Activate Your Money

For a copy of her book, click HERE

You can learn more about Janine at InvestForBetter.org, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at MoneyAlignmentAcademy.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact George at Contact@GeorgeGrombacher.com.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

janine firpo

Janine Firpo

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on one level, this is George G. And the time is right. Welcome to our monthly book club and welcome our author, the strong and powerful Janine Firpo. Welcome, Janine.

Unknown Speaker 0:19
Hi, thanks for having me.

george grombacher 0:21
So excited to have you. Janine is the co founder of invest for better. She’s a writer, Angel, investor, impact investor, social entrepreneur, her newest book is activate your money. Janine, tell us a little about your personal life, some more about your work and why you put pen to paper and wrote the book? Sure, I’d

Unknown Speaker 0:40
be happy to do that. So I am married. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. And interestingly enough, my family actually goes back four generations in San Francisco, which is incredibly unusual if you know anything about this area. So I’m really proud of that my family came from Italy and settled here a long time ago. So I personally got involved in the tech industry early in my career, and I had about a 35 year career at the intersection of technology, and how do we apply that to solve poverty in developing countries. So I did that for quite a while was sort of a social entrepreneur before that was a thing. And then about 10 years ago, I realized that my money was actually invested in things that were helping to create the very problems I was trying to solve. And I made a commitment to figure out how we invest every single dollar I have in ways that align with my values and build the world I want to see. So I’ve been on that journey for a long time. And I retired from that international career about four years ago, and started getting even deeper into it and realized that in the time that I’ve been involved, a lot of people, including 84% of women, and 95% of millennials want to invest their money in ways that matter to them. But figuring out how to do it is really tough. So I decided to write a book, and I decided to write a very, not just a high level, but this is actually how you do it. This is where you can go find investments. And I wrote it for women, specifically, or with a voice toward women, because most finance books are not written for us. And so I wrote that. And one of the things I know about women is we like to learn together. And so I helped co found invest for better, which is a place where women can come together in investment clubs and learn how to invest as confident investors and with their values together.

george grombacher 2:37
Nice, I appreciate all that. So tell me or share share with us please the process that you went through to actually write it because I know it was very, very involved.

Janine Firpo 2:48
So when I started out writing, the first chapter I wrote was on cash. And I did a bunch of interviews. And it took me about two months to write the cash chapter. And I realized this book would take me the rest of my life at that rate. So I reached out to a lot of friends that I had, who were financial advisors, because I’m not a finance professional. I’m a international development professional. And I had about 40 Women who stepped up and wrote early versions of the chapters, which I then simplified and rewrote in a single voice. I also had every chapter reviewed by about 20 to 25. Women, about half of them more experts on that subject, and about half of them were just readers. And this book got rewritten about three or four times. So at the end of the day, I had about 150 people contribute to the book, the vast majority of them were women, but a few men too. And so although the book is written and geared toward women and talks about women, those pronouns, men can read it too. And I’ve actually had men read it and give me very positive feedback.

george grombacher 3:55
Nice. So in essence, you, you, you became the you sort of commissioned the book, you became editor you became Rewriter. Over and over again, is in your mind’s eye when you made the decision to do this, and now looking back over it, that it worked out. Great that it worked out better than you could have expected.

Unknown Speaker 4:22
It did. And it did for a number of reasons. First of all, I think the content was much better. It was a lot more work. But I think that doing that and really putting the sections of the book out for review with a wide audience, and being willing to hear the feedback positive and negative when it came back and take action on it created a better book at the end of the day. The other thing that really benefited and this is important for anybody that’s writing is when you write and you finish the book, that’s just part of the journey, then you have to get people to know about it and actually read it right. And so as me on didn’t have a huge social media following. But all the women who were involved in this book, I think of this is not my book so much as our book. And they saw it that way too. So when it came to marketing and promoting the book, I had literally hundreds of people who helped me do that. And so it got, word got out to a much wider audience, because these women were excited about the fact that, that their voice and their thinking and their goals were put out in the world as well. And I will say this, too, they all volunteered their time. So this was a collaborative effort where I didn’t pay anyone to do this. They did it because they all care about the same goal that I have, which is we want women to feel confident as investors, only 9% of us think that we are better investors than men. But data shows that when we do invest, we outperform men. And so I want women to realize you, we can do this, we’re good at this, and we can control our money. And then I want them to realize that by 2030, the majority of this money of money in this country will be in the hands of women. And if we decide we want to invest it differently than it’s been invested before, we have the collective power to change the economy and change where money flows. So I want women to know that too. And the women who contributed to the book all have a similar ambition,

george grombacher 6:32
which is a very real and exciting and empowering thing. That’s that’s the statistics that you just shared are incredible. You’re essentially, things are going to be totally different.

Unknown Speaker 6:47
Yes, I hope so. I mean, and this is, it’s very important. I want to say this, again, it’s not to take anything from men. But it’s that women have been left out of this conversation for so long. And we just have a different way of approaching our money and approaching how we learn is very different than men. And I want women to be able to be spoken to taught and incentivized in the ways that work for them.

george grombacher 7:15
I think it’s great. When when when you hear the phrase, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. How did that factor into the book?

Unknown Speaker 7:23
It’s really important. So one of the things that you might hear a lot about particularly recently is the whole idea of greenwashing. Right. And so when people talk about something called ESG, which is environmental, social, and governance and having those criteria applied to our investing, it usually refers to our investing in the stock market. And one of the concerns is that there are no standards for how a company is rated in terms of its ESG. Standards, there are no standards in terms of funds, either. And so people are very concerned that they’re investing in things that are saying that they are green, or saying that they’re socially responsible, and they’re not. So we’re the perfection. Don’t let the perfection be the enemy of the good comes in is, first of all, just know that there are tools online freely available that you can use to dig into your funds and your companies. And there’s more and more of them coming online all the time. So you can check this out and make your own decisions. The other thing is, we’re not at a place where you’re going to be able to invest perfectly, and get everything you want. It’s just not we’re not there yet, we may get there someday. And we may never, you may find that there are companies who are doing great environmentally and failing in terms of their social governance. Investors have to make a decision, which of those criteria are more important to them. So don’t not invest your values, because you can’t find the perfect solution. You can find things that are much better than what you’re investing in today. And that will make you feel much better. So go with that and know that this kind of investing will only get better and more perfect with time. We’re just not there yet.

george grombacher 9:08
Think that’s really well said. And you know, yeah. I don’t think I need to add anything to that. It’s perfect. So when somebody picks up the book, what what, what should they expect? How did you structure it?

Unknown Speaker 9:23
So the book is written in three parts. And the first part is really about what is this kind of investing? Why would you care, and also goes into some basic fundamentals of investing because as I mentioned earlier, what I learned in writing the book is not only do people not know how to invest this way, but women don’t know how to invest full stop. And so I wanted to put more of that into the book as well. So the first part is just more introductory. The second part is really the bulk of the book. And what I do there is go through every asset class asset class by asset class, there’s a chapter For each that talks about what is this asset class? How does it work? How do you invest in it? And then how do you find specific examples and places to invest your values in that asset class. And for those people who don’t know what an asset class is, it’s simply a categorization of a type of investment opportunity. And it is generally an investment class, the how easily you can get your money out is a factor as I talked about in the book, our cash, we often don’t even think about our checking and savings accounts as places where we can have value we can I talk about fixed income, the bond market, I talk about public equities, the stock market, and then I go into private investing private debt and private equity, because that’s not something we often think about, particularly women. And yet women who, particularly those who have more assets should really think about investing in private because it diversifies your portfolio. But it also helps female entrepreneurs who can’t get capital at the same rate system. And then it talks about all these other alternatives that we could invest in, right real estate, or solar, clean energy. And so that’s the second part of the book is really the asset classes. And then it ends with some components around how do you work with your your family? How do you work with financial advisors? How do you think about your retirement funds? How do you start your own club to invest your values. So that’s how the book is structured?

george grombacher 11:35
Nice. I am, I’m such a proponent of, of finding and cultivating community. And there’s just so many different benefits to it. And obviously, you feel that way, as well. So tell me a little bit more about why it is you decided to give the information and the resources about developing these clubs.

Unknown Speaker 11:55
So interestingly enough, back in the early 90s, there was a book that was written by a group of women called the Beardstown. Ladies. So this group of Midwestern women middle aged, have started an investment club to teach themselves how to invest in the stock market, because that’s what you did. In the 80s, you bought individual stock, right? And I wasn’t and that they wrote this book. And this book sort of did the equivalent of the pre internet viral, it went viral on the internet. And it launched 10s of 1000s of women led investment clubs, and I was in one in the 90s. We called fogbank, we were based in San Francisco. So I learned so much from being in community with other women. And I’ve been in to investment clubs since then. And I’ve always learned a tremendous amount that way. So when I wrote the book, I thought, I want people to be able to use it alone, but I really want them to be able to use it in clubs. And so that was always a vision from the beginning to write it in a way that you could use it that way you could approach the chapters that mattered to you. And along the way, I met this woman named Ellen Rema, who’s based out of Boston, and she had started a little project, she called it invest for better. And she was putting women together in clubs to teach them how to invest in ways that mattered to them. And so once the book was finished, our conversations got more serious. And we decided, You know what, we are so complimentary in what we do, we’d be so much stronger together. So we took her a little initiative reroll is a five A willingness and we work together and is some work to do this work with someone else. And to do it myself, too. So that was part of the vision from the beginning. I know women like to learn community, I know it’s way more fun. I know a lot of us think of this whole thing of investing is like, oh my god, it’s just more work. Please, does somebody else just do this for me. And so if we can be learning of our glass of wine and some dinner and schmoozing with our friends and having a good time, and then doing a little work as well. It just makes it all more fun and more interesting and engaging.

george grombacher 14:18
Yeah, I think that that is a that is a wise thing right there for sure. So make that wine and a little bit of food makes everything better. So Amen.

Unknown Speaker 14:29
All right. Yeah, I mean, we had to go totally virtual, of course, like everybody else. But some of our investment circles are meeting again in person, which I’m really happy about.

george grombacher 14:40
Yeah, I think it’ll be I’m sure it will be fascinating, as you see new use cases and people will take and use the book in ways you never dreamed and and should be it should be fascinating. So since writing it has Has Has anything changed. Things that you look back And you say, I really wish I would have added this or taken it out or you very happy with the product.

Unknown Speaker 15:06
I’m happy with the product. I think one of the things I did and I mentioned this earlier is I put real investments in here. So I talked about things that were available in the market today, because I don’t think we do enough of that there was a lot of positive to making that choice. The downside of it is that things change, right. So some of the things that I’ve written about have already changed. And so I anticipate that there will be a version to at some point that is revised and updated to include the things that changed, but some of the stuff has changed already, certain organizations that I talked about don’t exist in the same way anymore, particular fund may not be available, so. But I do also have a website that goes along with the book, it’s called activate your money dotnet. And there’s a lot more resources there. And I try to keep that a little bit more up to date. The other thing is, just so that your listeners know, the way each chapter ends, it ends with a Take Action section, because I actually want people to do things, move their money and invest more intelligently. And on the website, there’s corresponding take action sections for each book. And you can download spreadsheets, templates, tools, there’s links to videos, where I train you on how to use some of the great tools on the web that help you figure out what’s in your portfolio, how to understand what you own using Morningstar. So there’s a lot more stuff on the web that people can benefit from as

george grombacher 16:41
well. Nice. That’s, that’s, I think that’s exciting. And using technology. All these different use cases, like having the having the clubs and templates, all of it, I think it just makes perfect sense. And it gives the opportunity to keep things updated or to make changes. So I think that that’s so exciting. So well, Jeannie, tell us where people can pick up a copy of the book, activate your money, and how they can get involved with everything else that we were talking

Unknown Speaker 17:13
about. Great. Well, I’m happy to say that you can buy activate your money on virtually any online bookstore that you go to. And it’s also physically in some bookstores to you can always go to your local bookstore and ask for it. I’m a huge proponent of independent bookstores love to see them stay in existence. So that’s always a way you can get the book at in terms of invest for better if you’re interested in leading a circle because they are pure lead, led by volunteers or being in the circle, we’re actually getting ready to we’re recruiting. We run three groups of circles every year, and the next one will start in May. So if you’re interested, you can go to invest for better.org, go to the Get Involved section of that website. And you will see what is involved in what you get for participating in a circle what it looks like, you get a copy of the book, when you join us. We have a membership fee, that’s $100 a year where we made it low enough that anyone could do it. But we want to move away from just being a grant based organization and you get a free book you get in a circle, you get access to 24 speakers a year access to 12 different financial advisors who will get online with our members and answer any questions they have about their investments at all. So there’s a lot that goes along with participating in investment better and we welcome women of all backgrounds, ages, socioeconomic, whoever you are, if you self identify as a woman, we would love to have you be part of investment better.

george grombacher 18:54
credible. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, so Janine your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, pick up a copy of activate your money, wherever you buy your books. Go to, you can go to activate your money.net and check out a lot of the other information we’ve been talking about and then go to invest for better.org. And you can find the information on the circles under the Get Involved section and take advantage of that 24 speakers a year and access to the financial advisors and all the other great resources that she’s been talking about. Next good. Janine,

Unknown Speaker 19:33
thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity.

george grombacher 19:37
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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