Abby Davisson has dedicated her career to helping other people achieve their goals, first as a social innovation leader, and now as an author and entrepreneur whose work has been featured in Fortune, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company , among others. Abby co-authored the book, Money & Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions , and went on to become Founder and CEO of The Money & Love Institute, prior to which she drove social impacts as the President of the Gap Foundation.
Today, Abby joins the show to discuss how money and love factor into big life decisions, what couples should be considering prior to marriage, and what it means to live your authentic path.
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00:45 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Abby Davisson, who joins the show to share early experiences that informed her money experience
04:51 – Abby’s career in social impact and the genesis of her book, Money & Love
22:53 – The most important factors to consider before getting married
25:25 – Regret and living your authentic path
30:08 – One thing couples can do today to make better decisions and one thing to completely ignore
32:45 – The last thing Abby changed her mind about and one thing people don’t know about her that she would like them to know
37:32 – Jonathan thanks Abby for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with her
“I knew that it was possible to make dramatic changes in life, but I didn’t grow up in a family that talked about money a lot. And so, that was something that I had to come to through a different set of experiences.” (03:04) (Abby)
“Couples that live together before they get married have higher divorce rates. And that seemed very surprising to us, counterintuitive even. And so we wrote our final paper looking at why that was the case, if anything could be done to avoid it. And, yes, it turns out that there is something that can be done to avoid those negative outcomes, and that is being intentional.” (06:54) (Abby)
“Children born today – a baby born today in the Western world – has a majority chance of living to be 100.” (09:52) (Abby)
“All big life decisions – whether it’s moving across the country to accept a job or moving in with someone because you are excited to take your relationship to the next level – have a component of money and love to them. And if you make them in a siloed way, you are more likely to make a decision that you regret because you’re not thinking holistically and not acknowledging the fact that money and love are inextricably linked.” (12:19) (Abby)
“The first [of the Five Cs] is to clarify what is most important to you. The second is to communicate with the other person or people involved in the decision. The third is to examine and consider a broad range of choices. The fourth is to check in with trusted resources. And the fifth is to consider a broad range of consequences.” (16:15) (Abby)
“One thing living in Northern California that I think really helps is nature. I think getting into a place where you feel small relative to what else is out there enables introspection. One of the ways that my husband and I have found to have our most effective communication is on hikes. There’s something about being outside, away from the clutter of the dishes, and the sink, and the laundry that hasn’t been folded, that allows us to think more expansively.” (21:26) (Abby)
“There’s been a lot of research about people at the end of their lives. And what they most regret is not living a life that is authentic to themselves, but trying to follow a path that was expected of them or that they thought was their path but then they realized, ‘Oh, that actually wasn’t my authentic path.’” (25:32) (Abby)
“Pay attention to what you have outsized emotional reactions to. Sometimes, what is helpful as a North Star is understanding your core values in all of this. And one way you can do that is by looking at a set of values and circling the ones that are resonant for you.” (27:32) (Abby)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Hey, welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Abby Davisson. Abby has dedicated her career to helping other people achieve their goals, first as a social innovation leader and now an author and entrepreneur whose work has been featured in Fortune, the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, among others. She co authored the book Money and Love, an intelligent roadmap for life’s biggest decisions with Stanford professor emerita and labor economist Myra Strober. Abby went on to become founder of and CEO of the Money and Love Institute, prior to which she drove social impacts as the president of the Gap Foundation. Myra, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Abby Davisson: I’m so happy to be here, Jonathan.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m excited to have you. So first, where do you call home? Where are you connecting from?
Abby Davisson: I live in San Francisco, in the geographic center of the city. So right near Golden Gate park.
Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, uh, beautiful. I live in Berkeley, right across the bay. Where’d you grow up?
Abby Davisson: I grew up on the opposite coast. I grew up in suburban New Jersey. And as soon as I could make my own decision about where to live, I’ve gravitated to cities. So went to college in New Haven, at Yale, on the east coast, and then moved out to California after college, lived in San Francisco, and spent a few years in New York City, but mostly have been on the west coast ever since. College.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So growing up in New Jersey, take you back. Growing up in New Jersey, what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship as a kid, maybe as a teen?
Abby Davisson: Well, I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship that I came to later in life. I knew that my parents had been enterprising in the sense that they left all of their extended family. They grew up in the midwest, both of them in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They met in high school. Their first date was the senior prom. And right before I was born, my father had the opportunity to take a job in the national office of the nonprofit where he was employed the American Lung association. So they moved when my mom was eight months pregnant to the suburbs of New Jersey. Left all of their friends and family and network for a job that was a bigger opportunity and a chance to pursue dreams in a different way than they could from the midwest. So I knew that it was possible to make dramatic changes in life, but I didn’t grow up in a family that talked about money a lot, and so that was something I had to come to through different set of experiences.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious, can you point to any experiences that inform your money story as an example? My mom would take me into the mall in Rabbitsee, South Dakota, and go store to store to store. Comparing prices on jeans, that’s something know, tough skins, I think, is the ones I ended up getting all the time because they lasted longer. What have you. So, frugality came from my mom price shopping, and I’m just curious if you have any of those kind of experiences that really made money, even if it wasn’t an overt. This is what you need to know about money, but something you just picked up on the way.
Abby Davisson: Yeah. Well, I think our moms would have gotten along because my mom was an early shop, secondhand shopper before resale was a thing. So I wasn’t allowed to get any brand name clothes. But if I could find them at a consignment store, that was the exception. But what I did know is that my family spent money on experiences. So vacations, that was always a big thing. Even when my brother and I were young and we couldn’t afford plane tickets, we would take road trips all over, and we spent money on books and restaurants. My mom was a children’s librarian, and so books were a big thing in my family. And food and vacations.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. I mean, you experience other people’s lives through books. You had some vacations. And this whole idea of experiential spending money on experience as a path to happiness is what the psychologists talk about now. So your parents were way ahead of the game. It, uh, sounds like they were, in a lot of ways, very cool. So before we look at money and love and the book and the institute, what did you do before writing the book? Let’s just bring us up to that place.
Abby Davisson: So, before writing the book, uh, my career was focused on social impact, as you said, I’ve worked in all three sectors, so I had spent some time as a nonprofit consultant right out of college. Then I spent some time in the New York City department of Education in the country’s largest school district and then wanted to get involved in a lot of the schools that we were working with in that district were partnered with third parties. So a, um, company, a local law firm, for example, or a science museum. And I really loved the idea of cross sector partnerships. So I went back to graduate school to get an MBA. I had nonprofit experience. I had public sector experience. I had no corporate experience. So I went back to graduate school, got my MBA, and that is where I met my co author. I took a class with her in business school. She also oversaw the joint degree with the education program, which I was enrolled in as well. So met a guy in business school who we actually took Myra’s class at the same time. When we were second year students in business school and we were facing graduation, we had to make big decisions about, do we look for a job and accept a job in the same city? Do we move in together if we end up in the same city? And Myra’s class was this petri dish that really forced us to have a lot of difficult conversations about money and love before we felt entirely ready to.
Jonathan DeYoe: What was the name of the class? I’m curious.
Abby Davisson: It was called work and family.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. And so did you immediately say to her, like, you graduate, hey, we should write a book? Or, how did you come together to write the book?
Abby Davisson: Yeah, no, not at all. The book was not on my radar. Uh, but what I had done with my boyfriend at the time was really look at. We were making these big life decisions, as I mentioned. And she had shared in the class a surprising piece of data, which is that couples that live together before they get married have higher divorce rates. And that seemed very surprising to us. Counterintuitive, even. And so we wrote our final paper looking at, uh, why that was the case, if anything could be done to avoid it. And, yes, it turns out that there is something that can be done to avoid those negative outcomes, and that is being intentional. So if you are deliberate about talking about merging your lives, your career ambitions, your finances, your approach to household chores, then those negative outcomes go away. The problem is when you slide into the decision versus decide. So we had written this paper together. We did decide to live together. We got engaged the following year, and we were working. We had different jobs. My husband was working in finance. I was working for a nonprofit. And Myra M. Invited us back as guest speakers to her class for, uh, about a decade, actually, after we graduated. And one day after she retired, she told me that she wanted to write a book on the class. And I said, that’s a great idea. It has been so helpful to us at this point. We had two young kids. We had changed jobs a number of times. I was working at the gap, as you mentioned, and she said, yes, this is my plan. And so we had lunch about a year after that, and I asked her how the book was coming, and she told me that she had not written a word. And I said, well, it’s a big project. Maybe you need an accountability partner. And I didn’t have myself in mind. What I had in mind is I had just started the, uh, first employee resource group for working parents at the gap, and I did it with the partnership of a working dad on the legal team. He was a lawyer. And it was so helpful to work with someone to get this big project off the ground. And so she looked at me and she said, you’re absolutely right, but I need more than that. I need a co author. And you have been putting the practices and the lessons of the course into practice in your own lives for the past decade. You’d be the perfect person to write this book with me. And right then and there, I said, yes. And we violated the first rule of our book, which is, never make big life decisions in an instant. But we had known each other for over a decade at that point, we knew aid complementary perspectives, and so it wasn’t as impulsive a decision as it might have seemed.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So why is the message important now?
Abby Davisson: There are so many trends making the message important now. I mean, the first is that we’re living longer than ever. So demographers estimate that people who are born today, the majority of them, will live to be 100. And so you need to be that much more intentional to make sure those extra years are a gift and not a burden.
Jonathan DeYoe: Say that again. We always hear average life expectancy being low eighty s. Say what you just said again. I want people to hear it again.
Abby Davisson: Yeah. So children born today, a baby born today in the western world, has a, uh, majority chance of living to be 100.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes. All right.
Abby Davisson: Exactly. Another two trends I would mention is the trend towards dual career couples. So if you look at couples overall with kids, about two thirds of them are both working outside the home, in the formal, paid workforce. For millennials and younger, it’s close to three quarters. So more and more, you need two incomes, especially in big cities, that are expensive. Right. To be able to make your life work. And if you have ever known anyone who is combining a full career and a full family life, it takes a lot of intentionality to make sure that that arrangement is working for everyone involved. And the last trend is really the experience we’ve all lived through over the last three plus years, which is Covid. Right. It’s that we all had our routines, our commutes disrupted. And while everyone has a different mandate in terms of where they are, back in the office full time, several days a week, I think there is still a window that is open for us to reexamine how the big choices we make in our lives and how we are putting those routines and other pieces back into our lives to make sure that we are having lives that are full of purpose and meaning and not just returning to the way they were before, because that was the default.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, actually, I’ve had this conversation privately, but the idea that the positive out of the pandemic is we’re questioning that value of 80 hours a week grind, 60 hours a week grind. We’re questioning the value of that. And I think that’s a really, really good set of questions. I think you and I both asked those questions. So I’m good to see that culturally, we’re asking the question as well. So we’re often told. And I kind of bought this until I read your book. We’re, uh, often told that some decisions are money decisions, and some decisions are love decisions. So how does your research say this is wrong?
Abby Davisson: Well, I bought this, too. Before I took my risk class, I had always been taught to be very strategic about my career and analyze it and think through it rationally. And when it comes to relationships, really follow my heart. Right. And not let money interfere with relationships, because that’s materialistic. But the aha. Moment I had in Myra’s class was understanding that all big life decisions, whether it’s moving across the country to accept a job or moving in with someone because you are excited to take your relationship to the next level, have a component of money and love to them. And if you make them in a siloed way, you are more likely to make a decision that you regret because you’re not thinking holistically and not acknowledging the fact that money and love are inextricably linked.
Jonathan DeYoe: This is a total aside, and so this is probably going to come out of nowhere. I’ve been married twice. First one in divorce. Obviously, both times I was married. Before we were married, we had a short class. I think the second time, there was, uh, an evening at a church with not a minister, but somebody that was saying, this is what it means to become a couple. You’re going to think about kids. You got to have conversations about, so do you think we do that anymore? Do people prior to marriage go through that kind of conversation? Was that just religious? Did that help in this money love conversation, do you think? Does it happen anymore? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Abby Davisson: I do. No, I don’t think it happens enough. And I have had people who come up to me and my co author after we speak and say, I was fortunate to take this class through my church or this class through my place of worship, but many of my peers didn’t, and they didn’t have the conversations we had because we had taken this sort of course, and we’re still together and they’re not. And, uh, I think there is data on the fact that we are less connected to places of worship as we once were as a society. And there hasn’t been another institution that has stepped up to fill that role of kind of premarital counseling or advising couples. I think what we have is a proliferation of therapists that are available to step in when it’s almost too late, when things reach a crisis. But we don’t have that same sense of working on your relationship is like going to the gym. Right. There’s a, uh, very kind of. I don’t want to say preventative, because it’s not inevitable that problems will develop, but there’s this sense of, it is part of your relationship wellness to be talking about these issues and to have regular reviews, if you will, just as you would in a business context. And so I think it’s great that you had that opportunity. My husband and I obviously took the class, and then we also did a class through our synagogue when we were engaged. And I think both of those experiences really helped us lay the foundation for the types of conversations we’ve been having since then.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. When you start out with, do you want kids? I want two. No, I want three. And you have the argument before you’re married. That’s actually, I think, a big positive. It teaches you how to argue before you’re married, right?
Abby Davisson: Absolutely.
Jonathan DeYoe: So the book goes into the big decisions, the really big things. Do you have kids? Where do you live? There’s some really big decisions that are chapter by chapter in the book, and I want everyone to get the book and read the book. But can you describe the five C’s, the approach you developed to evaluate all decisions, whatever comes up, even if it’s not in the book?
Abby Davisson: Yeah, absolutely. So the five c’s is our framework for how to approach big life decisions, as you mentioned. And it was not originally part of the course. So when Myra was teaching it, there was no framework. But as we were working on the book, we realized that it wasn’t enough to just give people a set of information and stories, both of which we do in the book. What we really wanted to do is develop a flexible but sturdy framework they could use to apply to any big life decision, because there are certainly decisions that are going to come at you that are not covered in a chapter of the book. Right. We tried to hit all the big ones, but there are lots of others that are inevitable and that we can’t all anticipate. So I’m happy to talk about the five c’s and I’ll run through them, and then maybe we can go into depth on one or two if you want. So the first is clarify what is most important to you. The second is to communicate with the other person or people involved in the decision. The third is to examine, consider, uh, a broad range of choices. The fourth is to check in with trusted resources. And the fifth is to consider a broad range of consequences.
Jonathan DeYoe: So the one that always, I think, trips people up is the second one. So what is the advice on the second one?
Abby Davisson: You’re so right. I think communication is very tricky for a lot of reasons. There are a couple of things that trip people up. One is that it’s very daunting to share your deepest, darkest desires with someone else, even if it’s a longtime partner. And so often we want to put that off. We want to wait until, in my co author’s words, you’re standing at the edge of a tall diving board, and you want to wait until the diving board gets lower. But the thing is, it never does. And so it’s actually better to communicate earlier because your goal is to share what’s important to you with someone else, hear how that lands for them and what’s important to them, and actually allow yourself to be influenced by what they say. So we’ve all communicated where you’re sort of just waiting for the other person to talk so you could continue to make your point and really nail all of the key convincing arguments that is going to push them over to your side. But what we mean in communicate is to share how you feel, hear how they feel, and then allow that to help you reclarify what is important to you. And so communication is about listening just as much as it is about talking, and it’s about finding the right time and place for the conversation. So I don’t know about you, but often, even though I wrote this book, my husband and I will sometimes find ourselves having conversations about moving, for example, as, uh, we’re brushing our teeth, getting ready for bed at night. And that is the worst time to have this conversation, because all of a sudden you go to bed, and then your mind is racing and you’re like, I can’t fall asleep because we just started this conversation. It’s a terrible time. Or when we’re trying to get our kids out the door in the morning to go to school, like, oh, wait, there’s one thing I forgot to mention, which is there’s an open house. Right. That is also not the time to have that conversation. So it’s really about making an appointment, as if you might for a business meeting, right. I’d like to talk about moving. Can we talk about it this weekend, when might be a good time for you? And so, even something as simple and seemingly inconsequential about planning ahead for this conversation can make all the difference in how it goes.
Jonathan DeYoe: So which of the other five do you think is the next one that trips people up? And comment on that one.
Abby Davisson: I actually think it’s the first c, which is clarify what is most important to you. And there’s a couple reasons why it trips people up. The first is that our wants are so powerfully influenced by what other people want. And so if you were raised by parents who set an example, whatever it is, uh, of frugality, you mentioned, right. You might have hear your mom’s voice in your head every time you go to the store of, like, wait, have you checked that other store? Or have you, like, you’re buying a house for how much? And so it’s hard to tune those voices out, but you have to tune them out or find a way to turn down the volume so that you can really deeply understand what you want. So that’s an important piece. And the other thing is just, there’s such powerful pressure in society to check certain boxes, right? To get married or have kids or climb the career ladder. And so it’s not just about what our peers are doing. It’s about, um, what we absorb from capitalism or living in America, about what we should want, that you also need to find a way to acknowledge and then figure out, okay, but what does that mean for me? And I think the first c is the hardest, but once you do it and you do clarify what you want, it allows the other C’s to flow that much more easily.
Jonathan DeYoe: Absolutely. Amen. Absolutely. We talk about this as a financial planner, you talk about this. We write the plan prioritizes and offers us trade offs. And when we understand the trade offs that we want to make, everything just. We know how to invest, we know how much we have to save. We know how the rest of the plan just writes itself once we know what we really want. But people don’t spend that time being introspective. So we referenced this earlier. There is a historical decline in people being part of organized religion. And I think that’s where people found introspection before. So outside of that, where do you think people find a place to, uh, really understand? How do people really connect with that clarity if they’ve never learned at all how to be introspective?
Abby Davisson: It’s so challenging, and I think it’s one of the reasons we have, as the surgeon general has declared, like a crisis of loneliness. I think there is a, uh, big challenge with connection to others, connection to ourselves. I mean, one thing living in northern California that I think really helps is nature. Right. I think getting into a place where you feel small relative to what else is out there, I think, enables introspection. It’s one of the things. One of the ways that my husband and I have found to have our most effective communication is on hikes, there’s something about being outside, away from the clutter of the dishes and the sink and the laundry that hasn’t been folded. Uh, that allows us to think more expansively. And it also, when you’re walking side by side with someone, even if you’re just walking on your own, but especially when you’re communicating with someone else, there’s willingness to be vulnerable because you’re not looking deeply into each other’s eyes. I always say this is like why your kids will tell you things in the car when they’re not facing, you’re not facing them. They’ll talk to you in a way that they might not share at the dinner table because you’re not meeting each other’s eyes. So I think that there’s value in, even if you don’t live near miles of hiking trails, just going outside for a walk, leaving your day to day office or home, and spending a few minutes thinking about whatever that question is that is top of mind for you, that is keeping you up at night that you want to get a little bit more clarity on.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, uh, I love it. One of the things our therapist suggested that we should do is we should walk more often. We should go for walks. My wife and I, so totally on point. What are some of the most important decisions that young people need to consider before they get married.
Abby Davisson: Well, people are getting married later in life. So even young people now are getting married later than young people did several decades ago. And certainly when my co author, who’s in her eighty s, was getting married, that was in her twenty s, and I got married in my late 20s. But now there are people older than that considering marriage for the first time. And I think what’s most important to do is think about the kind of career that you want and talk with the person that you’re thinking about spending your life with about the kind of career they want, because there are a lot, especially if you want kids. I mean, you mentioned this question of like how many? And if you’re a single child and you just want one and your prospective partner came from a big family and they want four, there’s a big difference between one and four. So you might want to hash that out before you get married. But I think what trips a lot of people up, especially given how individual our caregiving is in this country. Right. It’s very much dependent on the nuclear family to provide childcare. It’s not something other countries have different approaches. The United States really puts it back on the individual. And so often that means in a heterosexual couple that care falls primarily on the woman and that might have implications for her career. And so often I mentioned not sliding into the decisions but deciding. That is a very slippery slope. And I’ve seen it happen to a lot of friends and contemporaries of mine where again, in a heterosexual couple the mom will say, well, I’m just going to step out of the workforce for a year or two because it’s really hard to find childcare for newborns and infants. And then it becomes a little harder. And actually then they’re more active and they’re toddlers. And so you’re like, oh, I want to take them to all these different classes before they enroll in preschool. And then maybe the preschool isn’t full time and it’s not a great time to get back to work. And suddenly you’re out of the workforce for five plus years, which makes it a lot harder to go back. So I think you’re probably not thinking about that at all when you are getting married or excited about spending your life with someone. But it happens so quickly. And if you’re not very clear with each other from the beginning about what kind of career you’re interested in how that will mesh with having kids, those are the types of things that get really challenging to address later on down the line.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I’m assuming that a lot of people make the decisions without thinking it, and then they regret it later. What? Are some of those really common, or the most common regret that you’ve witnessed in the research?
Abby Davisson: Yeah, I mean, well, what’s known. There’s been a lot of research about people at the end of their lives, and what they most regret is not living a life that is authentic to themselves, but trying to follow a path that was expected of them or that they thought was their path. But then they realized, oh, that actually wasn’t my authentic path. It was just that, again, what we were talking about before, I was going up the career ladder, and I never stopped to say, is this the right ladder for me? Until it was too late. And so the research shows also that people regret risks they didn’t take. It’s not that they regret, oh, I wish I would have spent longer in the office, or I wish I would have not gone on that big vacation because it really was expensive. But it’s, uh, the risks they didn’t take, the opportunities they turned down because they felt like they were too busy, that are what they dwell on. And so a lot of what we are trying to do in that clarify step is help people understand. Help people do that thinking before it’s too late. Help people make the decisions proactively so that they can pursue the things that are meaningful to them, that are going to fulfill them, and not wait until it’s too late, or they run into a health crisis or some other concern that doesn’t allow them to pursue those dreams.
Jonathan DeYoe: It just struck me that there’s a lot of other research that talks about how we don’t really know what we want. Do you know what I mean? So you get introspective, you get clarity, figure out what you want. You go three years down that path, and you go not really the path I wanted. How does that factor in to, do you go back and get clarity again? What’s that process?
Abby Davisson: Yeah. So the framework is very iterative. It is laid out in a linear fashion, and there’s five steps. But it is not that you do it once, and then you check, done. It’s very much that you think you want something, you get some data, realize, oh, that wasn’t it. We clarify. And so a couple of things that can help you get that clarity if you don’t know what you want. Two suggestions. One is to pay attention to what you have outsized emotional reactions to, because sometimes what is helpful as a north star is understanding your core values in all of this. And one way you can do that is by looking at a set of values and know circling the ones that are resonant for you. But another way to do it is to, as you’re going about your life, you’re reading an article, you’re watching something on the news, you’re listening to a, uh, podcast, and somebody says something, and you’re like, what? That’s not right at all. Or, I can’t believe that. Or just something that is kind of startling to you. And that is likely because it touches on a nerve that is connected to a core value for you. So that can be very informative. And the other thing that’s informative is jealousy, right? If you see someone and they have something, and I’m not talking about, oh, they have a fancy car, and I want a fancy car, but it’s like the writer Gretchen Rubin talks about this, that when she would read, she was a lawyer, trained as a lawyer clerking for a supreme court justice, so obviously doing pretty well on the lawyer track. And then she would read her class notes from her law school or college, and there were people who were writers, and she would feel intensely envious of those people. And so that was interesting data to her to say, oh, well, maybe it’s not law that I’m interested in. Maybe it’s writing. And so, as it turns out, yes, she’s very good at writing, and so now she’s pursuing that path. But one of the ways that I knew I was interested in entrepreneurship is that I was, like, hiring people to help us with various things in my personal life. And I was so intrigued. I mean, I wasn’t jealous, but I was so interested in their personal stories of what led them to entrepreneurship, and they’d be helping us, for example, streamline our house. When we were getting ready to have our second kid and we needed to turn an office into, uh, a nursery, we had to hire people because it was so hard for us to figure out what to get rid of. But these two women founded a company that helped people streamline and minimize. And I was, like, interviewing them about their personal story of what led them to leave their corporate jobs and start this company, because at that point, I didn’t know that my path was going to lead to entrepreneurship, but I was so interested in how they got into it. And then that gave me information to file away. And those are the ways that I think people can get a little bit more clarity, even if it’s not like a light bulb moment for them about what they want.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s not a light bulb moment, but it’s something that lights you up. I mean, it literally creates curiosity. It’s like, oh, what is this about? I want to go deeper.
Abby Davisson: Wow.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, note that, because that’s something that can become something. Yeah. There’s a ton of noise out there, and I ask every guest to simplify it for us. Let’s say you met a young couple. They were thinking about one of the big decisions. Having kids, getting married, whatever. What is one thing that they could do today right away that would help them make a better decision? And then the flip side of that is, what is one thing that they’re probably really concerned about, that they can just ignore something they should let go?
Abby Davisson: Those are great questions. So the one thing they could do right away is literally put time on their schedule to talk about the thing that they are thinking about. So there’s so much focus, if it’s getting married, on the wedding itself, and not very much focus at all on what happens after the honeymoon. Right. And so there’s so much effort and money that goes into planning this very short window of time relative to how long you hope the relationship is going to last. And so rather than putting time on the calendar to focus on the wedding planning, putting time on the calendar to work through some of those big questions, and we have some in our book, every chapter has an exercise that people can use to apply to make this brink come to life for them. So I would say just schedule time on the calendar to have those conversations. And I would say what they should ignore is all the things people are telling them that they should be focused on. Right. That’s the noise. That’s like, what you have to tune out. I mean, I’ll give you a very silly example, but when my husband and I were getting married, we live in San Francisco. At that point, we were in a small apartment. We’re still in a pretty small footprint home. And there were people around us who were horrified that we were not registering for China. We were know we have dinner parties, but they’re happy to have them on our plates. And this isn’t important, but it was very important to some people around us that we do this. And so we registered for China. I mean, it is one of the things I regret, because it is just like now taking up space in our home, and it’s sort of like we feel like we should be using it more. We’re not. I mean, it’s such a silly example, but it’s one of those things where I had an instinct that wasn’t really the right thing for me. I didn’t trust the instinct. I listened to the people who were playing the tapes in my head about, like, you’re not going to register for China? And, yes, that’s something they could tune out.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m cracking up because we did the exact same thing. We were like, we don’t need China. Who uses China? And yet here we are. We have China, and then we inherited more China. So we have two massive boxes of china that we never just. Yeah, it’s very funny. Just before wrapping up, I like to come back and ask a couple more personal items. We start personal. We kind of get into the stuff, and then I want to ask something personal again. So what’s the last thing you changed your mind about?
Abby Davisson: So my husband and I have a practice of having an annual review. We call it our summit. And so we have these weekly meetings. They’re very logistics focused, like, who’s going to do pickup and drop off, on which days? We have two young kids, right? And so we make the time to have an annual review so that we zoom out and we talk about kind of the big rocks, if you will, the big priorities that we have in life. And so we did that a couple of weeks ago. And I had gone in thinking that I had some things that I thought were going well, and he had some things that he thought were going well. And through the course of that conversation, I realized that something I thought wasn’t going well, which is you don’t even need to know the details about this, but just some things about our new routine. Our younger son switched schools, and so we’re sort of mixed up all the routines in our house. My husband actually said, well, I think that is going well, and here’s why. And so in the course of talking about that, I actually changed my perspective on something that I had been feeling not great about. But I think what helps us is having that again, it goes back to the time on the calendar that you’re prioritizing something where you’re talking about a big picture item instead of just kind of going through every week and focusing on the logistics. And I would have probably just kept feeling bad about the thing that I thought wasn’t going well. So I love that we now build that into our practice and make time for it.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I wasn’t going to ask this question, but are you spontaneous? How difficult is it to be spontaneous when it’s all, we have the weekly meeting, we have the annual summit. It’s all, every major decision we schedule a time. And can you do this on Saturday at four? Yeah, I can do that Saturday at four. They have a discussion about it. And you’re all very thoughtful and do you ever just do something? I’m just curious.
Abby Davisson: Well, you’ll laugh at me. We are extreme planners, right? Like, just personality wise. And so it works for us. I get it that not, uh, everyone is like that, but yes, we do spontaneous things. But you’re going to laugh because I will put time on my calendar that’s like blocked so that we can be spontaneous. Uh uh. Because especially with young kids, they have so many activities and there’s the birthday parties and there’s the other commitments. Right. And I’ve learned that if we say yes to all the things, then you never get to be spontaneous because you’re just like going from one activity to the next. So sometimes I will say, like, okay, what’s the weekend that we don’t want to have all the things filled in? And those are the weekends where if somebody’s like, hey, actually last weekend it happened because everyone was traveling for Thanksgiving. We happened to be around. A friend texted me and said, hey, I have tickets to a basketball game. Ah. At the chase center. Would you guys want to go? And it was the University of San Francisco women’s and men’s teams. And my kids had never been to the chase center and my husband actually hadn’t been either. So we all went. And that was because we had nothing on the calendar and it was great. But we are an extreme example. I totally acknowledge that. And people totally laugh when I say I have to schedule time to be spontaneous.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think my wife and I are very similar, which maybe says something. I don’t know what that says. So do you find yourself like Thursday at five? We have this block of time to be for spontaneity, but then a child’s birthday gets scheduled Thursday at five. So you have to move your spontaneous time to a different day.
Abby Davisson: Yeah, I mean, it’s a constant whack a mole of activities.
Jonathan DeYoe: Calendar problem. One last thing. Is there anything that people don’t know about you that you really want them to know?
Abby Davisson: Yeah, I think what I feel very strongly about is, so my mom passed away in 2000 and she was a children’s librarian. She loved what she did. And I always thought of my dad as my career role model. He had the big corporate job or the big nonprofit job in the fancy office in New York City. And I climbed that ladder for a long time. And what I recently realized and what is driving me now is that my mom is actually my career North Star, because what she said about her job is that she would say, I can’t believe they pay me to do this. She would get to go in and introduce kids to books and have cocoa parties. So they would come to the library and see libraries and books as welcoming places. And so I think it’s okay for you to come to your north star later in life. Uh, but when you recognize it, you really need to prioritize and clear a path so that you can follow it. And that might be scary, right? I let go of a very big job, a ah, trapeze. That was very comfortable to grab this other trapeze, and it’s more uncertain. Um, I’m not sure how this leap will turn out, but because I followed the process that we laid out in our book, I feel so much more confident about that leap, even though I don’t know what the outcome will be.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s beautiful. How do people connect with you? Where do they find you?
Abby Davisson: Well, I am on LinkedIn. That’s probably the best way to find me. And LinkedIn also has links to my newsletter, which I write every week, and our book website, moneylovebook.com. But the best place to find me is on LinkedIn.
Jonathan DeYoe: Abby Davidson Abby, thank you so much. I’ll put the link in the show notes for sure. Thank you so much for coming on. This has meant a lot to me. I’ve enjoyed laughing with you and being like planners in the world of not planners. I think that’s very fun. So thank you very much for coming on.
Abby Davisson: Oh, it was a pleasure to be here. We’ll have to have a tea on our china sets someday.
Jonathan DeYoe: Someday.