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084: Manisha Thakor – Balancing Financial Health & Emotional Wealth

Manisha Thakor has worked in financial services for over thirty years, with an emphasis on women’s economic empowerment and financial well-being. She is the author of MoneyZen: The Secret to Finding Your “Enough,” and has been featured everywhere including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NPR, PBS, CNN, CNBC, Real Simple & Women’s Health. Her work focused on helping individuals of all ages balance financial health and emotional wealth.

Today, Manisha joins the show to talk about seeking wealth, counterfeit financial culture, and the difference between money problems and money worries.

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Key Takeaways

00:59 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Manisha Thakor, who joins the show to talk about positive financial lessons she learned from both her mother and father

09:14 – Seeking wealth

13:36 – The feeling of ‘Enough’ and how gender influences it

16:51 – Money problems vs money worries

20:05 – The differences between the social infrastructures of the U.S. and Nordic countries

26:07 – Counterfeit Financial Culture and Hungry Ghosts, explained

32:50 – Financial Health plus Emotional Wealth equals Money Zen

36:57 – One thing we can do to increase personal and financial success and one thing to completely ignore

45:00 – One thing people don’t know about Manisha that she would like them to know, and one piece of advice she would give to her younger self

48:41 – Jonathan thanks Manisha for joining the show, encourages the audience to leave a review on her book on Amazon, and lets listeners know where to connect with her

Tweetable Quotes

“My mom is a hippie. She always – back before it was cool – had me playing with gender neutral toys and told me that money gives women voices and choices. And so I had very positive money influences growing up.” (04:47) (Manisha)

“And so, a set of behaviors that helped protect me as a young child ended up as a runaway trait, a subconscious way of moving through the world. And, in the world of finance, when you work like a maniac and you’re trying to earn a lot of money, that’s called being a good employee.” (10:57) (Manisha)

“A money problem is something that can be solved with a series of factual, tactical action steps. For example, how much house can I really afford? What is a reasonable, sustainable rate of withdrawal if I’m headed into retirement? My credit score is in the crapper. How do I improve it? Money problems.” (17:06) (Manisha)

“Money worries are things that have emotional components to their solution, versus purely factual, tactical.” (18:35) (Manisha)

“When we meet someone in the U.S. what is one of the first three questions we ask them? ‘What do you do?’ Overseas, in most countries, that is not the case. But we ask that question and we judge the person’s answer. Therefore, we are placing a value on ourselves and our fellow human beings based not on who they are – their character, the joy of being around them, the curiosity they may inspire in you – but what they do. That’s how we’re valuing them.” (21:00) (Manisha)

“Counterfeit Financial Culture is my name for the way in which we have anchored ourselves and our self-worth to false financial images.” (26:26) (Manisha)

“In lay language, the Buddhist concept [of Hungry Ghosts] is that amongst us walk hungry ghosts who have distended bellies because they are so starved for love and recognition and acceptance, but their throats are as thin as a needle. So, no matter how much of that they receive, they can never fill the hunger. And, I would argue that we have a whole heck of a lot hungry ghosts running around as a result of these factors that I talk about in Money Zen.” (31:23) (Manisha)

Guest Resources

Manisha’s LinkedIn

Manisha’s Website

Manisha’s Instagram

Manisha’s Facebook

Manisha’s YouTube

Manisha’s Twitter

Manisha’s Book

Books Mentioned:

A Room Of One’s Own

Mindful Money Resources

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Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Hey there. Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Manisha Thakor Uh, she’s worked in financial services for over 30 years. I’m just approaching 30, so you’ve got more on me. With an emphasis on women’s economic empowerment and financial well being, she’s been featured everywhere, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NPR, PBS, CNN, CNBC, Real simple, and women’s health. Today, her work focuses on helping individuals of all ages balance financial health and emotional wealth. Thakur earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, her BA from Wellesley College, and is both a chartered financial analyst, what we often call a CFA, and a certified financial planner, a CFP. The dual designation makes you one of the smartest people in the industry. But one of the reasons I wanted her on the podcast is she’s the author of Money Zen, the Secret to finding your enough, Manisha, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Manisha Thakor : Oh, Jonathan, thank you so much for having.

Jonathan DeYoe: You know, we’re going to launch into this. I’m excited to have you here. Where do you call home and where are you connecting from today?

Manisha Thakor : Well, at the present moment, I’m talking to you from Portland, Oregon. I split my time between Portland, Oregon and rural Maine, and I’m, um, about to move to Washington, DC, and split my time between Washington and rural Maine.

Jonathan DeYoe: Why split your time in two different places? That’s rare. And then why move from.

Manisha Thakor : It has to do with writing money, then. So, I have always been completely obsessed with my career and earning money, which we’ll dive into. But I have two nephews and a niece who I absolutely adore, and they are at an age where they still like adults and they happen to live in Washington, DC. And my brother happens to have a summer home in rural Maine. So I decided to buy myself places within 3 miles of each of their homes so that I can be an auntie extraordinaire.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow, that’s awesome. We’ll get into a little bit about that too, but just for a go there, where did you grow up?

Manisha Thakor : I grew up in a small town in Indiana called Columbus. And it was a very interesting growing up experience. I’m mixed race and it was a very white town then. Back then I was pretty dorky and didn’t fit in with the cheerleaders and the cool kids. And so I’m, um, not sure I have such fond memories of talking about that period, but it does very much play into how I ended up writing money’s end to try and cure myself from the toxic mindset that I was living with.

Jonathan DeYoe: So when you were young in Indiana, what sort of lesson did you learn about money and entrepreneurship?

Manisha Thakor : I learned positive lessons, which is ironic given what transpired in my adulthood. My dad, who’s indian, worked in finance and always treated my younger brother and ah, I identically in terms of talking about money and teaching us. And I have a very vivid memory, uh, about age eleven, where my dad sat me down with his hp twelve c financial calculator and in a unique moment of father daughter bonding, showed me how to do future value calculations of what my IRA could look like at retirement if I saved my babysitting and lawn mowing money. And it compounded at various different rates of return. After seeing those numbers, I was like, I’m all in. And my mom is a hippie and she always, back before it was cool, had me playing with gender neutral toys and told me that money gives women voices m and choices. And so I had very positive money influences growing up.

Jonathan DeYoe: Did you say eleven?

Manisha Thakor : Yes.

Jonathan DeYoe: You were doing that twelve c calculation when you were eleven. So my dad did that to me when I was nine and ten years old as well. I think that makes us very unique. I’m wondering if that set of calculations and you seeing the time value of money at that age sort of sets you on the trajectory towards investment management and the work you’ve done investment banking and investment management years later.

Manisha Thakor : Without a doubt. I mean, it definitely got me passionately interested in the financial services world. Although interestingly, when I got out of undergrad, this was back in the early 90s where the trendy thing to do was to go into investment banking. They had these two year programs and they were feeders into top, um, business schools. And so I dived into that world in six months and I detested it because I realized your job was to sit around all day until a managing director at 06:00 p.m. On the way out through some work on your desk and you’d have to stay up till four in the morning making powerpoints. And this was back in the day when you looked for jobs in the newspaper. So I opened up the New York Times and looked, uh, at the job wanted section, and I found this thing called investment management. And so six months out of undergrad, I shifted into investment management, and I was hooked from the get go, given the seeds that were planted when I was younger.

Jonathan DeYoe: One of my favorite sentences in the book, you write this. And I laughed out loud by myself in my office when I read this. You said, in comparison to that six month period, you said the investment management vibe was a little less death match, a little more professional tennis. And I love that. Competitive and demanding, but civilized. I found that when I entered investment management, I found that to be anything but the case. Did you find that when you went in there, did you find it to be civilized, or did you find it to be also cutthroat?

Manisha Thakor : Well, it’s all relative, right? So I think any job in finance is cutthroat, right? But not to the cage fight level that I experienced in the early ninety s in investment banking fair.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think my starting class was, there are 400 of us. And I think after two years, there was only two of us left. Maybe there are three of us. There was three of us left. So it was rough. But I’ve heard stories from multiple guests on the podcast that they started off investment banking, and they last six months, year and a half, and they all hate it. They just hated it. But it is the source of a lot of wealth.

Manisha Thakor : Well, and you know what? I had a very interesting experience when I left after six months, because I thought the managing director to whom I resigned, who’s the head of the New York practice, m a practice, I thought he would beat me on the head because they just spent all this money training me. And before they got any real profit and work out of me, I’m leaving. And instead he said a variation of, you know what, manisha, good for you. Get out of here before your family becomes so used to this style of living that you can’t get out. And two other reasonably senior people pulled me into their offices to say goodbye and gave me similar messages. And for listeners, this was back before tech took off. And there were all kinds of other ways to make tons of money back then, really. Investment banking was a very classic path to big ticket wealth. And I never forgotten that memory and that advice of, uh, not getting trapped in work you don’t like simply because of an income stream that you and your family have grown used to go.

Jonathan DeYoe: Back a little bit further. What is it that gave you that? Why did you seek that level of wealth? Why was that important to you? Like as a kid or in high school or when you were in college? Where did that bug grab you?

Manisha Thakor : It hit me when I was doing my junior year abroad at Oxford, I stumbled upon Virginia Wolf’s book, ah, room of one’s own, in which she, back in 1917, when she wrote the book, said, in order to fully actualize, women need some space and some money of their own. Now, note, she didn’t say women need millions, um, or multimillions in order to do that. But that really was the capstone on a series of events that started when I was growing up awkwardly in Indiana. Back when I was growing up in fourth, fifth and 6th grade, I was teased. Mean, the kids called me everything from cowbutt to thunder thighs and a whole bunch of other things that I go into in the book. And I felt so ostracized by the cool kids, uh, that I turned to my academics because I felt accepted by my teachers and I would get praise. And then as you move into the work world, what replaces grades and accolades from teachers, but promotions and money? And so a set of behaviors that helped protect me as a young child ended up as a runaway trait, a subconscious way of moving through the world. And in the world of finance, when you work like a maniac and you’re trying to earn a lot of money, that’s called being a good employee. And so there’s not framework or an ecosystem to stop you in your tracks. And when you’re so internally driven out of, um, what I call a small t trauma, something that happens to you before the age of 25, when your brain is fully formed and creates a pretty strong neuropathway. It’s not like I, as an adult, sat there and thought, well, back when I was in fifth grade, so and so said what? But the pattern of, um, seeking acceptance through external things, be it grades or money, was set in place back then. And, ah, for many very successful people, it’s interesting to note that these kind of things are drivers.

Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, yeah, I was going to share this. I had this conversation with my wife over the weekend, I kid you, not, anticipating. She has no idea about this interview or what we’re going to talk about or your book or anything. So, your book is so timely, and it hit me personally, but this is the conversation I was having, saying. I was telling her, I often feel like I’m only valuable to the extent that I’m productive, like, if I didn’t work and produce, I’m going to say this, I wouldn’t be lovable. Does that make sense to you?

Manisha Thakor : It absolutely does. And I cannot tell you during the two year period in which I was researching this book, talking not just to academic experts, but to a wide range of individuals across careers and income streams and geographies and ethnic backgrounds, how incredibly widespread that belief is. And it’s a very powerful, and yet, at the same time, painful way to look at life. And I’m, um, right there with you.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I mean, you just sort of answered the question. But do you see one of us might be different than, uh, the respectful gender? So I’m wondering, is this gendered at all? Um, on average, is this a gendered issue? First question. The second question is, do you find it more concentrated in the west, or did you interview people that know from India, Asia, other places, and they have a similar sense?

Manisha Thakor : I did not find the productivity linkage to being lovable to be gender specific. What I found to be gender specific was the items that the productivity was focused on.

Jonathan DeYoe: Got, uh, it.

Manisha Thakor : So one of the things I see a lot with career women is this feeling that they have to be not just the chief financial officer of their homes, but the chief cupcake makers for their, know, PTA events. And so that kind of drive. And it’s not just women who are in executive roles. I interviewed a yoga instructor who felt the number of people in her class and the number of private lessons she was asked to teach drove her sense of worth and therefore whether she was lovable.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So what about the international aspect? Is it a western thing or is it also everywhere in the world?

Manisha Thakor : It’s not everywhere in the world. In the scandinavian countries over the last two years, I happened to visit Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and, uh, I’ve been to Norway in the past. And one of the things about having widespread social safety nets and quite a bit of a tighter bell curve around incomes is that the emphasis on where you put your focus in life is not necessarily even 50 50 between work and all the other things. Maybe it’s 40 60 between work and all the other things. I have found, however, and I can’t speak to all other countries, but I can speak to what I’ve seen in India over my lifetime, and definitely when I was younger and we would go over to India to visit family and spend time, family was the dominant anchor. But thanks to this widespread advent of capitalism in India, I can tell you that there is a lot of, um, the same dynamic occurring not in the villages, but in the.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s so, right from the outset, uh, your book is different than other financial books you state explicitly, I believe. Right. I don’t remember exactly, but that this book wasn’t written for people with money problems. It was written for people with money worries. I have all kinds of money worries. We’re not going to go into my psychology here, but we just kind of touched on a little bit. Can you explain the difference? What’s a money problem? What’s a money worry? And sort of who’s the book for?

Manisha Thakor : A money problem is something that can be solved with a series of factual, tactical action steps. For example, how much house can I really afford? What is a reasonable, sustainable rate of withdrawal? If I’m heading into retirement, my credit score is in a crapper. How do I improve it? Money problems. Money worries range from the proverbial for women in particular. I’m going to end up old, alone and under a bridge. Interestingly, 80% of men die married, 80% of women die single. And you can see it if you read the obituaries. So it’s not a ridiculous worry on the part of women, but I see it across income spectrums. Many men or women who have more of a male outlook towards their work or are the co or primary breadwinner. That group worries that they won’t be able to provide for their family. And it’s not a number driven, it’s an emotionally driven feeling. Um, and so when I talk about money worries, money worries are things that have emotional components to their solution versus purely factual, tactical.

Jonathan DeYoe: So it’s not really finance at all. And I think you write about this in the book as well. You say something like, money worries are a, uh, collective ache. Like I just said, the feeling you’re never going to measure up, you’re never going to be enough, you’re never going to do as well as you could, you’re not living up to your expectations, these kinds of feelings.

Manisha Thakor : Yeah. And you asked me who the book is for, and that plays right into this. The book is for anyone who has ever felt, no matter how much I earn, no matter how many accomplishments I achieve, no matter how much praise I receive, it’s never enough. Often because I feel like I’m never enough. Or the flip side, it’s also for people who feel that the answer to anything that ails them is what society tells us. And that is more. Do more, be more, buy more. Those are the individuals who are struggling. I have found with a painful, never enough mindset. And it is people who want to step off that hamster wheel of that type of toxic thinking that this book is geared towards.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, so there’s two things that are going on in my head. I’m trying to tie the comments about the social infrastructure of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and how that’s beneficial. Specifically about this collective aching. How does having a social infrastructure make me feel more lovable if I’m less productive? Do you get the question?

Manisha Thakor : I absolutely do. And I think it stems from the way in which our culture in the US, and now increasingly in some other countries as well, we’ve infected the world, right? Literally. Well, thankfully, not all of it. Um, but we’ve shifted from having jobs to careers to callings, and it’s off cited that when we meet somebody in the US, what do we ask each other within the first three questions, what do you do exactly? And overseas, in most countries, that is not the case. But we ask that question and we judge the person’s answer, and they judge our answer, whether it’s conscious or subconscious. Therefore, we are placing a value on ourselves and our fellow human beings based not on who they are, their character, the joy of being around them, the curiosity they may inspire in you, but what they do, that’s how we’re valuing them. And so that’s how I think about the answer to that question. Whereas, uh, if we take the scandinavian countries, and again, anytime you take a large population, there are always exceptions.

Jonathan DeYoe: Sure.

Manisha Thakor : But what I find is that because there are social safety debts, because health care and child care, elder care and education are not things that bankrupt you. You are not worried about those events bankrupting you. You are able to enjoy work for the sake of work. And of course, not everybody loves what they’re doing for work in these countries, but you don’t have to cling to them from a feeling of, uh, oh, my God, this work defines my very existence and subsistence in this world. That’s what I think is the difference.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I want to push back a little bit. And the pushback is. So the United States has, I think, 5% of the global population and produces 25% of global GDP. So one presumes that in that hyper productivity, I think we’ll call it hyper productivity, there are new inventions that benefit the world, new medicines, new entertainments, new movies, new sneakers, styles, new energy sources. That comes out of this hyperproductivity. That’s a benefit for everybody. Right. So can we have it both ways? Do you think we can have both the advancement of all the technologies and the things, and be more about being and less about doing.

Manisha Thakor : Let me say that I am a total capitalist, and I think free markets are absolutely wonderful. But I do question whether the end outputs of our 25% of GDP that we’re contributing is beneficial. And I’ll just take one simple example. I’ve always struggled with my weight. Well, we are the world’s dominant creator and seller of, um, processed food like products. Exactly. We now have a global obesity problem that we have exported, is that productivity? We now have people all over the world feeling bad about themselves because they don’t have the latest cool sneaker. Was that a good thing for us to export? Also, we’ve come up with technologies that enable us, in many ways, to work around the clock and lose our humanity. Is that a good benefit? So there are many contributions that we’ve made in a wide variety of areas, healthcare, infrastructure, technology, engineering, that truly do benefit global society, but not all of it does. And so the question of if we be, can we still produce? I think the answer is yes. And I actually think we will be even more creative if we work less. I have found that as I finally slow down and I’ve stopped working on the weekends, and I give myself a mental break, and I have a firm end of my day, I’m more creative. And that has been a huge surprise, because for 30 years, I always worked on weekends. I never took all of my vacation, and I always worked in the evening and brought work home with me.

Jonathan DeYoe: You just described me, so I now feel bad about myself. I’m kidding. So the first half of money’s end. You already mentioned this a second ago. The first half of money’s end is about the cult of never enough personal trauma. And the sources are personal trauma, counterfeit financial culture, hustle culture and biology. We’re not going to go over all those. I’d love to hear you talk about the counterfeit financial culture, though.

Manisha Thakor : Yeah, counterfeit financial culture is m my name for the way in which we have anchored ourselves and our self worth to false financial images. And by that, I mean most of us know when we look at social media and we are looking at somebody’s family pictures from vacation, we are seeing the Kumbaya photo at the end. We’re not seeing the photo of mom and dad at dinner giving each other the silent treatment, or the kids having food fighter hissy fit. So we’ve all become curators of our lives thanks to social media. But much more insidious than this, I believe, is the way in which people are portrayed at every income level and profession, in tv and movies, in particular, that genre, um, though it exists somewhat in magazines, too. And the example I’ll give is, you pick any legal, medical, or police drama, and you look at the characters in there, and you look at the clothes that they are wearing, the cars they’re driving, the homes they’re living in, the restaurants they hook up with their friends, uh, to have a drink after work. I actually did some analysis on one character who’s in the trending show on Netflix right now called Suits. It’s a paralegal named Donna. And the fabric of the clothes that she wore was of such high quality, it was literally like jumping out from the screen, like, hello. I just came off the Runway, and everything was exquisitely tailored, and her hair was perfect, her nails were perfect. And I added up what it would cost to live and groom and socialize in New York, where the shut takes place, in theory. And you’d have to earn 30% to 50% more than what that position pays in order to live that way. And that is uniform across almost every character we see at every income level.

Jonathan DeYoe: So no matter what your job, when you see your job on tv, the image of that job on tv is wealthier than you have the capacity to reach. I have never heard of that before. That’s incredible.

Manisha Thakor : It’s shocking. And as I’ve mentioned, I’ve done this back of the envelope for a wide range of professions, and I’m hoping an economics PhD student will be listening to this and will write a thesis on it, because it is exceptionally widespread. So we look at that outside, and then in our own neighborhoods. Growing up, you tended to live in neighborhoods where people had similar incomes. Because you went to get a mortgage, you had to put 20% down. The banks kept the mortgages on their books, so they actually cared if you could pay it back. And so it was very difficult to live beyond your means. We didn’t have easy access to credit 30 years ago. Getting a credit card was a much bigger deal. And so what happened was, when you looked at your neighbors, they were pretty much living a similar life to you. But now we look at the neighbors, and we’re like, well, they can do that. Why can’t I do that too? They’re driving a Range Rover. I’m done with my minivan.

Jonathan DeYoe: I have a neighbor I moved into. This guy lives across the street. He’s a manager of, I think, of a brokerage complex in San Francisco. I’m not entirely sure he has in his driveway, there’s a Porsche, there’s a BMW, there’s a Mercedes, there’s a Ducati motorcycle. And I’m just like, there’s two people in the house, right? What are these cars for? And he’s out there washing them every single day or every weekend by himself. He’s out there with his diaper. And, uh, anyway, it’s a great couple, but, yeah, the neighbors are completely different. It’s totally different. And this idea that when we’re watching ourselves on tv, or those people who are holding our roles on tv, and it’s no wonder we all feel less than, like, every image of what we look at is more successful than how we feel. That’s amazing. That’s a great insight. How does that tie in with you? Talk about Han and Tara Brock and the idea of hungry ghosts. I love that. Know, I studied Buddhism. I still meditate and all this, but I studied it seriously for, like, three or four years. So I get it. But explain to other people, what’s a hungry ghost?

Manisha Thakor : In lay language, the buddhist concept is that amongst us walk hungry ghosts who have distended bellies because they’re so starved for love and recognition and acceptance. But their throats are as thin as a needle. So no matter how much of that they receive, they can never fill the hunger. And I would argue that we have a whole heck of a lot more hungry ghosts running around as a result of these factors that I talk about in money’s end than we have had in any point in history. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. It is human nature to want more than what we have. Purpose, um, of all religions, is, in some sense, to tell us to be present, to feel we have enough, and to give and be charitable to those who have less than we do. But the other forces we’ve discussed here are so strong now that, ah, we have an army of hungry ghosts, and.

Jonathan DeYoe: We’Re all moved in that direction. So this second half of money Zen is dedicated to sort of developing your framework, which is the, uh, financial, health, and emotional wealth equals money Zen. Can you walk us through that?

Manisha Thakor : Sure. Money Zen is the end place that I’m hoping readers will find themselves. And I define it as feeling calm, confidence and clarity around both your relationship with money and the role that you want it to play in your life. And what I’ve observed is for those of us who are trapped in any of the different layers of feeling, like it’s not enough and we’re not enough. Oftentimes, we are focused on generating financial wealth, thinking that is going to solve the problem as opposed to optimizing our financial health. And I’m certainly not saying that money isn’t important, because if you don’t have money, that’s horribly stressful. What I’m saying is, and this has been now coming out more and more in the research, is that. Let me backtrack a little bit. You and I have been around when the study came out that said $75,000 is what you need in order to be happy. Anything beyond that doesn’t make you happier. And people on the east and west coast are rolling their eyeballs like, what planet do you live on? Like, my family can’t. So the original author of this study teamed up with some folks at Penn, and they went back and revisited. And obviously, this study came out a long time ago, so we’d have to inflation adjust the 75,000. But what they found was, yeah, the study was wrong, but not because the number was wrong. It’s because there is a level of income that varies for all of us. You can’t put one number on it, but there’s a level of income, which I would define as financial health, that earnings beyond that, do not increase your life satisfaction unless you have a base layer, what they called well being and what I call emotional wealth. And that really is the crux of it. It sounds simple. Now, identifying what is the right level of financial health for you is something that often requires working with a, uh, professional, because there are some factual answers to that. It can be a money problem, but it also can be a money worry in terms of thinking about the role that you want money to play in your life. And my argument is, if you focus solely on financial wealth, which is something that I did, the financial services industry, when you work in it, encourages it. Other industries do, too. You can, as I did, wake up in your. You’re emotionally bankrupt. You’re fine financially, but you got nothing else. And that was my case.

Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds like, uh, let’s see if this framing works. It sounds like money is necessary but not sufficient to increase happiness, whether it’s exponentially or in a straight line. You have to have a baseline of emotional well being that is necessary and sufficient. Right. So that’s the thing that drives your exploding sustainable happiness. The finance doesn’t. I keep trying to tell people this. I think your book is incredible. I hope that a few copies go off the shelves because of this interview. That’d be awesome. So I think we can admit there’s a ton of noise out there. Like, there’s a lot of people saying a lot of things about how we should live and how we should invest and all this kind of stuff. So I want you to simplify it for us. A brand new listener. What is one step that that person can take today that will lead to better personal and financial success?

Manisha Thakor : One of my favorite exercises is to ask people, if you woke up and $50 million after tax dropped on your head, and at the same minute you were given a diagnosis that you had exactly five years left to live, what would you stop doing? And what would you start doing? And I’ve been asking people this question for over a decade now, and the answers are shockingly similar. People would stop worrying. They would stop work. They would stop feeling driven and compelled to do things they don’t want to do, but they feel society is saying they should do. They would spend more time with family and friends. They would do more volunteer work. They would travel. They would engage in hobbies. And so those big pictures tend to be the same. What I encourage people do is to dive down into that. What would I start and pick something and start it? You can start it small and learn a new language is a very common one. Well, go hop on the duolingo app. You only need to do five minutes a day, and it’s amazing how much progress you can make. And so that exercise, I find to be very powerful. Another one comes from a woman I, uh, interviewed who used to run a hypertension center at the University of Colorado. And what she found over the 20 plus years that she worked there was people who were able to get their hypertension under control, tended to have one thing in common, and that was that they ultimately got to a point where they realized, to manage their health when they were feeling off kilter, they needed to ask themselves in this moment, to move incrementally forward towards more contentment. To whom or to what do I need to connect? And this kind of goes back to your earlier point about the disparity between the percent of population that we are and the percent of global gdp that we contribute. Study after study is showing we are depressed and lonely. In fact, just the other day, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the noted sex therapist for years, has decided she’s done with it. She now wants to be, at age 95, a loneliness therapist to help cure us of, um, what she now sees as, and our general surgeon has said, as well, that loneliness and depression is a huge issue. So this question, what one step can you do after listening to a stock when you’re not feeling great? Ask to whom or what I should connect. It might just be a short phone call to your spouse, to your kids, to a friend. Might be a pan of brownies sitting on your sofa binge watching the current round of catching up on succession or billionaire or something. Or billions, rather.

Jonathan DeYoe: There’s a few places this almost makes me want to start the interview over and go down a different rabbit hole, but I’m going to avoid that desire. So the second half to the same question is one thing that they can do and then one thing they should stop doing.

Manisha Thakor : Yeah, one thing, since many people tell me they would like to stop work, stopping worrying, stopping feeling stressed out, it’s a little harder. Ah, those are like dials. Well, most of us can’t just afford to stop work, but we can carve out times where we give ourselves permission to emotionally disconnect from work. And that actually, according to researchers, is the distinguishing factor between people who are literally workaholics. I was, to people who have positive work engagement, as so many people do, that they love their work, their work isn’t tormenting them. And the reason it isn’t is because they do it, and then they turn their minds off while they go and do these other things. So what can you stop doing? You can stop staying mentally attached to your work, and maybe you started in really small ways. For instance, I feel like nobody eats breakfast with their family anymore. But if you’re lucky enough to do that at breakfast, don’t start thinking about work. Give yourself time to mentally disengage. Don’t check your emails first thing in the morning. Enjoy brushing your teeth, taking your shower, then engage. I mean, maybe it’s only 15 minutes of, uh, that disengagement, but the ultimate goal would be to get to weekends, evenings, vacations, where you can disengage. And when that happens, then oftentimes you feel less stressed, you have more space, you can rethink how you want to handle your money. Then you solve some money problems, and your money worries start to reduce. So that’s sort of the peeling back of the onion on the stopping side of, uh, the equation.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah.

Manisha Thakor : And it’s not easy.

Jonathan DeYoe: No, it’s not. Whenever we talk about work life and unhappiness, or the sense of value we get from the work or any kind of these conversations, as I’m thinking you just dropped us that you get $50 million and then a five year sentence. Basically, the thing that my brain went to was I would do pretty much exactly what I’m doing, which is working way too hard. Like, I work a lot of hours, but I love this stuff. I love doing these podcasts. I love talking about money. I love helping clients with things. I love writing about it. I got another book I’m working on. So I think I must have won the lottery in terms of figuring out what I’m good at, what I enjoy, and what provides me compensation. Like, I found the thing. I wonder, just within your work, have you run into many people like that? Are there people that would work more if they could, if they had more time? They love doing it. They make good money. They’re happy with what they do, and they should. Or do I have rose colored glasses on?

Manisha Thakor : Well, I mean, I would argue Taylor Swift and travis Kelsey right now both love their work and spend a lot of time on it and are, uh, having no difficulty finding some time to fall in love. So I think you can do both. I would ask you what else is bringing you joy in your life? Because I would argue whatever that is, what’s fueling you to be able to extract that joy out of your work as well.

Jonathan DeYoe: So multiple sources of joy are important. You can’t just have one source of joy. Fair. Just before we wrap up, I want to ask you just a couple more personal things. Is there anything that people don’t know about you that you want them to know? Maybe you’ve told them and they forgot, but is there something that’s really important to you?

Manisha Thakor : Yeah, there’s something that I’m starting to talk about now that I am in a different stage and I’m no longer in a corporate environment. I work for myself. I’m bipolar, too, and I was not diagnosed until I was in my part of it was because when you’re in mania in financial services, and you’re working around the clock, once again, good employee. And when I would fall into these really depressed states, I assumed it was because I’d been working so hard. I’d hit the wall also because when I would bring it up, I would bring it up to my general practitioner, who often most gps are not trained, at least up until maybe the last couple of years, to even think about mental health issues.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right.

Manisha Thakor : I look back and think, dear Lord, look at what I accomplished without a proper diagnosis and without being on antipsychotics, as I am now. And I think my whole world has changed now that I have gotten help. There used to be static in my head all the time that I was fighting against. And so one of the things that I am striving to do in this next phase is, particularly amongst financial professionals, to talk about mental health, because many of us are afraid to reach out and certainly to talk about it, because then our clients will think, well, I don’t want a crazy financial advisor.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yep. I was on a panel last year for wealth management magazine. Two people on the panel had suffered multiple diagnosis of cancer and had beaten it and come back. And beaten and come back. One guy had serious mental health issues coming out of childhood trauma and some other things. And I had recently lost my brother, so I’d gone through a trauma. And the crowd, there’s like 700 people in the crowd, and every single person was like, that was the most important. All financial services people, that was the most important panel we saw at this conference, because we do not give anyone, but especially financial advisors and the financial world space for their mental health issues. That’s huge. Thank you for sharing that. That’s a big deal. If you could go back 30 years, I know that the advice is going to be, I should do this earlier and give yourself one piece of advice.

Manisha Thakor : What would you say, without a doubt, treasure friendships and, um, don’t make them transactional. So easy in the business world to have transactional friends, and you move to the next firm, the next place, you stay in touch with them for a year on LinkedIn, and then they’re gone, and you move forward. And I look at people who have 2030, 40 year friendships, and they are bursting with emotional wealth. So that is something I deeply regret that I did not do. And in this stage of my life, I’m trying to make amends and see who will take me back.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, many people will take you back. Come on. I discovered the same thing after my brother died. My whole social circle, he died just at the end of the pandemic. So my whole social circle became my brother and his family. And, uh, there’s people that I used to hang out with 15 years ago that showed up as his services and were around, but I wasn’t really connected to. And so I’ve rebuilt, same thing, rebuilt those relationships. That’s really, really important. I totally agree. Tell people how they can connect with you. Find your work. What do you need from them?

Manisha Thakor : I like to keep things simple. So my entire life, everything about the book, me, previous books I’ve written live@moneyzen.com and the one thing I could use desperately from anybody who reads the book and enjoys it, is a short two to three sentence review on Amazon. Apparently, the way the algorithms work, if you don’t have enough reviews, you don’t fall into that. If you like this, you will like that and I am woefully far behind. I had no idea how important those reviews are so it takes less than five minutes and I would be so grateful.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’ll do one myself for sure and anyone listening, please do it as well. Definitely get the book. Manisha thank you so much for coming on. This has been enlightening. I’m glad to have met you. I thank you for coming on the show.

Manisha Thakor : Jonathan, thank you for your incredibly insightful questions.

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