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  • Personal Branding Interview: Kelley Keehn

    Today, I spoke to Kelley Keehn, who is a financial expert, speaker, media personality and author of She Inc.  In this interview, Kelley talks to us about the psychology of money, why it’s harder for women to be successful, what money has to do with personal branding, mistakes Gen-Y’ers make with credit cards and more.

    One of your keynote topics is “Discovering your Prosperity Factor,” and you discuss what beliefs are holding us back financially. What does money do to our psychology? How can we be more in control of it?

    I believe that being wealthy, like being healthy is the simplest thing in the world, if, and only if, we follow a formula of a few principles. To be healthy (remain thin or to shed pounds) we simply need to eat less and exercise more. Yet, in North America, we’re facing an obesity epidemic. Sure, there’s shortcuts and refinements of what you eat and how you move your body. But everyone knows these two principles to health. The question is, why aren’t we doing these things?

    With wealth, it’s also simple – save 10% of all you earn, earn more than you spend or, spend less than you earn. Again, why are we facing a consumer debt bill of over $1.3 trillion dollars (in Can) with over 75% of Canadians without even three month’s income saved in an account?

    I believe, through my research, it always comes down to a basic self esteem issue (for health and wealth). If I value myself as a human being, I’ll be careful what I put in my body and will move it and talk care of myself. If I believe I deserve to be wealthy, I’ll respect my finances, won’t try to keep up with the neighbours house, car, vacation, etc. This is much easier said than done and takes time to discover these old, limiting beliefs that reside within our subconscious – usually learned during our early imprint years still holding us back in adulthood. Thus my many books which deal with extracting exactly this and giving readers exercises to change their hold beliefs and habits regarding money.

    Why is it harder for women to be financially successful? And how can women overcome the challenge?

    Sometimes I’m not sure it is harder for women but do know that if you seek for examples of it being harder or an advantage, you’ll absolutely find both. Sure, women, if they choose to have children, will likely face a financial set-back in her career and pocket book. Coupled with the fact that on average, women do earn less and live longer than men, thus requiring more funds. However, I’ve met many, many successful women (some with children and some without) that didn’t see being a woman as a disadvantage but quite the opposite.

    As I discuss in point 3, I think it’s essential for women to think of themselves as a corporation. A woman today is more taxed than ever in history. She likely works a full time job and then comes home to a second one. She is also the statistical caregiver adding even more to her plate. If for example, she considered herself as a corporation and her immense earning power, she would hire out what she could for the sake of her own survival and efficiency.

    If she earned an average of $50 an hour, she would hire a cleaner that charged $30/hour, possibly someone to prepare the family meals weekly, etc. It’s not that she can’t do everything (which she very likely may not be able to), but she needs to consider the survival of herself and her corporation. If she’s just starting out and can’t afford to hire out services, she’d use her network to share jobs, babysitting to get that degree, etc.

    How does money tie into our personal brand?

    Everyone is being personally branded if they realize it or not. It’s essential for us to consciously think of ourselves as a mini corporation (You Inc.) and what you and your corporation stand for. If not, we’re at the mercy of others to decide what brand we are. Think of a cup of coffee – a Tim Horton’s, Starbucks or a Styrofoam cup from a mom & pop shop around the corner. Depending on your style of coffee, you know what you’re getting with a Tim’s or Starbucks coffee and the cup (the logo, colours, etc.) play to that brand. You know the likely taste and quality before you even take a sip. The Styrofoam cup of coffee could be the best one you’ve ever had or the worst slew water. But once the enjoy’er of the coffee is done, the name of the shop in which it was purchased is long gone.

    “If one creates a larger vision of what’s possible for themselves by thinking as a corporation, a consciously designed brand is essential.”

    What mistakes do Gen-Y’ers typically make with credit cards?

    I see Gen-Y’ers and our youth not fully understanding the impact of not being responsible with credit. For example, a parent might have taught their child to always pay off their balances, but so few do and furthermore, don’t understand (parents and youth) the impact of not paying just one minimum payment. It can haunt a person for 6 years on their credit report. I think if someone told a Gen-Y’er, “look, you can either go to the mountains this weekend or pay the minimum on your credit card…and if you don’t, it will hurt your ability to get a car, house and more in the next 6 years. Now, what’s the decision you’ll make?”

    Also, I don’t feel that our youth grasps that “available credit” is just that – not cash that they should run out and max in no time which so many do.

    I don’t feel there’s enough education for our youth or adults on maintaining a good credit standing or fixing a poor one. Thus, a great deal of my work in the media and a large portion of my newest book, She Inc. is dedicated to demystifying the credit bureaus and more.

    Would you give an example of a person who has used their own resources to go from a financial disaster to a success?

    Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, I can’t think of a more perfect example.


    Kelley Keehn
    , financial expert, speaker, media personality and author of six books, including She Inc: The Woman’s Guide to Money and The Prosperity Factor for Kids uncovers the “inner games” we play surrounding wealth.  Kelley is a regular sought after media guest, appearing on TV and radio around the globe and has many regular columns and published articles. Recently, Kelley was invited to meet with Warner Brothers, CNBC, and auditioned for the position of host with HGTV and the W Network. Today she is a regular contributor for CNBC, a bi-weekly columnist with CBC Radio Active and starting in July 2009, a nationally syndicated financial columnist with CBC radio.  She’s managed millions of dollars for one of Canada’s most international banks, endured the trails and successes of opening her own business, and is a sought-after speaker and educator for many successful corporations.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

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