Cause an Affect

Manisha Thakor, founder of MoneyZen

Episode Summary

Manisha Thakor is founder of MoneyZen and VP of Financial Wellbeing at Brighton Jones. Manisha explains how she is one of Portland's best kept secrets even though she has written two books that are huge sellers - one called “Get Financially Naked - how to talk money with your honey” and “On my Own Two Feet - a modern girl’s guide to personal finance” and has been featured over 100 times on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and many more major media players. In this podcast interview, Manisha is amazing at explaining complex personal finance issues into simple terms and explain the emotions behind why we spend and invest the way we do. She talks about the personal connection to how and why she became so passionate about empowering women in gaining confidence in making sound personal finance decisions.

Episode Notes

Manisha Thakor is founder of MoneyZen and VP of Financial Wellbeing at Brighton Jones. Manisha explains how she is one of Portland's best kept secrets even though she has written two books that are huge sellers - one called “Get Financially Naked - how to talk money with your honey” and “On my Own Two Feet - a modern girl’s guide to personal finance” and has been featured over 100 times on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and many more major media players. In this podcast interview, Manisha is amazing at explaining complex personal finance issues into simple terms and explain the emotions behind why we spend and invest the way we do. She talks about the personal connection to how and why she became so passionate about empowering women in gaining confidence in making sound personal finance decisions.

Despite her tremendous financial knowledge and success, Manisha has struggled with bipolar and is now a mental health advocate who was able to somehow “push through” her mental health until being properly diagnosed.

Episode Transcription

Ryan: Hey there, welcome to the Faces of Marketing podcast where we talk about the human stories and lives of different people and perspectives in the marketing profession, as well as entrepreneurs and movement makers. This is your host, Ryan Buchanan, and I’m here with my friend Manisha Thakor, founder of MoneyZen and VP of Financial Wellbeing at Brighton Jones. Welcome to the show, Manisha!
Manisha: Ryan, it’s great to be here with you.

Ryan: Awesome. So, Manisha you and I met two years ago through a mutual friend, Jenelle Isaacson, who I’ve interviewed here. Jenelle and I are on the board of Entrepreneurs Organization — Portland. We had you come and speak to our group and you have this beautiful ability to make complex personal finance issues around investing and spending and all of that stuff, sound way simpler and these concepts you explain, stick in your head. You also have two books. One is called Get Financially Naked: How To Talk Money With Your Honey, and the other is, On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance. You’ve been featured in CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and more. Yet in Portland, you’re this total secret gem. Like how do we not know about you here in Portland?

Manisha: Oh, you’re sweet to say that. It’s interesting, for most of my life, wherever I have lived and worked, I felt like I’ve had to be on constantly because there was no blind or barrier between who I was and what I did. For a long time, I loved that. I’m 49 and I got divorced four years ago and when I got divorced I did eat, love, pray. Where I went and I visited different cities. Which with divorce brain I picked using the only metric I could think of at the time, which was density of good coffee per capita. So that brought me to Portland and I moved here without knowing a soul, with my books and my clothes and nothing else. I didn’t even have a fork. Side note here, this is interesting, in mid life to have a chance to move to a place where no one knows your back story and you quite literally don’t bring anything with you, two things happen. One, you eliminate a lot of clutter because you only buy what you need. And two, you an amazing chance to let go of like the crap you don’t want to drag with you. But up until now, I have really tried to use Portland as my nest, the place I relax and I make human connections and then I’m doing my business stuff everywhere else.
Ryan: Brighton Jones is based in Seattle, but you’re kind of the Portland outcrop of that. Is that how that works?
Manisha: Well, one of the things I was fortunate enough in the early days of my career to have, actually fortunate and unfortunate in some ways, was to have worked in the Wall Street world. So I’ve arrived at a place where I can financially choose to do what I want to do. And so one of my requirements for coming on board was that I work on a location independent basis from wherever the heck I want. So I live here. My parents are aging. Sometimes I’m in North Carolina with them. Sometimes I just feel like running an airbnb on the coast, so I’ll work from there. So essentially, I’m a free spirit.

Ryan: I like that. I am too. So we’re kind of going linearly out of order through your life. But I also was thinking, you have so much passion around empowering women, families and personal finance And I wonder, is your professional purpose also kind of become one in the same with your life purpose? Where you get so much energy from what you do?

Manisha: It is totally my life purpose. If I had to pinpoint the moment that it I felt it in my DNA, I would say it was after I had spent my junior year in college abroad studying and I read Virginia Woolf’s book, A Room Of One Zone. And in it, she makes the most unbelievably eloquent argument that in order to create, a woman needs space and money of her own. Not a lot of either, although more can be useful, but not always. It was the way in which she wrote about this and she wrote it in 1917 and it was so applicable to today. I realized how much had not changed for her, for the strides that women in society have made. I still felt like there wasn’t enough dialogue around women, money, economic empowerment for women, even amongst women. Something just lit up in me. Since then, that’s been my mantra. What’s fascinating to me was that it didn’t come from my head. It wasn’t like I planned it. It’s like I read this book and I felt this spark and that’s what led everything else since then.

Ryan: There’s a lot of momentum in Portland with things like the Accelerate Fund, Elevate Capital and others. I think it’s becoming much more common knowledge that women founders get 2% of VC funding. Even from a bank’s perspective, just normal line of credit loans. Women owned businesses get 5% to their male counterparts. So men get 95% of the money when women get 5%. You’ve mentioned that even in scenarios where it’s not necessarily entrepreneurs, but women at some point in their life make 95% of financial decisions in the household. And yet, it seems like in every country in the world, there is this paternalistic imbalance from a financial perspective. A lot of organizations and nonprofits like Kiva, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others are very intentional about funding super small like women’s solopreneurs because the money stays in the community and has a multiplier effect. So I wonder do you believe if we were to invest in women and empower women on how to have more confidence in how they invest in spend what do you think that would solve in the states?

Manisha: I have three buckets of thought. The first being, the micro lending comment because it is so true. Default rates are so much lower for micro loans made to women. And it’s because when women make profits, they reinvest it back in their business back in their families, back in their communities. When men make profits, they invest it back in women, alcohol, tobacco, basically back into themselves. I say that in jest, because of course all men don’t behave one way and all women don’t behave another way. But statistically that’s what we’re seeing. In fact, Melinda Gates says, if you want to change the world invest in women.
Manisha: The second point is that the point you raise about women having trouble raising capital is A) completely true, B) (for the first time in my 25 years in the industry) really starting to come to the forefront and start to change. Although it’s not changing nearly rapidly enough. There’s so much dialogue. It feels like we’ve made a lot more progress than we actually have. But the issue that I’m talking about is ironically separate from that issue. Even if you get funding and you run a business, finances for your business (in other words, corporate finance or nonprofit finance), but personal finance often is very different. I first realized this when I graduated from business school and my crazy smart girlfriends who worked in strategy or operations or marketing started asking me really basic questions about their personal finance. And that’s when it hit me. Oh my gosh. They teach corporate finance in business school, they teach investing even, but not the totality of how you manage your personal finances. So that’s the piece I got interested in.

Ryan: And that’s why we brought you to speak to Entrepreneurs Organization Portland! Because most of my entrepreneur peers and me have our blinders on with continually plowing money back into our company and almost unconsciously making really poor personal finance choices by not investing in our 401k’s, by not investing in the longterm. As a culture and maybe just human nature, we’re so short term that we screw ourselves in the longterm. I think a lot of my aha-moment after seeing you or hearing you speak was like, oh, you’re saving us from ourselves. Our natural inclination is to invest in the “sexy” new thing and take our money out of something that was less interesting. I think your analogy was, “most of us will want to be the car that shifts lanes in traffic, but at the end of the day, we’re going to get to the same place at the same time.” I just found that really fascinating that we have these natural human tendencies that don’t align with good financial longterm performance.
Manisha: It’s true for almost all human beings. It goes back to the famous marshmallow test and seeing whether kids would wait to eat a marshmallow if they knew they would get two rather than eat one right now. Of course, the vast majority of them eat the marshmallow right away. So there’s something in our primal brains that wants instant gratification, which makes sense because years ago you never knew when you’re going to get the next chance or gratification. It’s particularly strong with entrepreneurs because by definition you have to have a high risk tolerance to be an entrepreneur, but you are taking so much risk with your business life that you actually want to offset it by taking less risk with your personal finances. That just feels at odds because it’s a completely different way of thinking.

Manisha: Also, if you’re an entrepreneur, you are naturally thinking there’s going to be a big pot at the end of a degree of work that’s going to solve everything, and it’s not always there. I think it’s very tough for entrepreneurs just because how you’re hardwired. But, I also wanted to mention something that flipped through my head, which is I want to emphasize that I focus on personal finance particularly for women, although I love to help anyone, not because women are worse with money. There’s this huge perception that we are, and it’s not true. Both genders are equally bad with money. What I find is the way in which women want to learn about this is different than the way men do.

Manisha: As my friend in the industry would say, “It’s not about pinking it and shrinking it.” It’s not about dumbing it down. It’s that most of the jargon around finance, because the industry’s been so dominated by men, is very testosterone driven and very much about growing money for the sake of growing money. Whereas oftentimes for women, the biggest driver is about “what can I do with that money?” The why behind it. What is the emotional connection to what the money can do, what impact it can have on your family, on the world. For instance, a lot of impact investing I think would not have gotten to the point it has, had women not been pushing it for decades before it the hip, cool thing to do.

Ryan: I think it all of it is fascinating. Before this interview a couple days ago, I was doing my research and really combing through your Linkedin profile and all of that, and you have this like super cool six minute reel on getting the message across of exactly what we’re talking about. But I did want to just be really real for a second — you had a male voice over to the video, which really distracted me given your purpose and I have no idea what the ethnicity he was, but it sounded like a white guy, I’m a white guy, and I might have my own guesses for why you made that decision, but I’m just wondering why you made that decision.

Manisha: It’s so interesting. I had never thought about that until you asked me that question. I’m thinking back and it’s because I delegated the decision to a woman-owned firm who oversaw the creation of the reel, and I never gave a moment’s thought as to the messaging that came from having a male voice. So, needless to say, I will be thinking about that and whether it needs to be redone.

Ryan: Well I just wonder if it was so that us white guys would hear the message better and actually lean in a little bit. I’ll give you an example. We had an open panel event that 300 people came to, that we hosted at Wieden and Kennedy for this entrepreneur group. The panel was all women and it was somewhat like the untold stories of entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs. It was very open to men. But the fact that we as men saw an all female panel, it was assumed that this is just for women. Maybe 5% of the audience was male and 95% women. Even though the content was super relevant for men. Anyway, I just wonder if there was some unconscious, “oh, we need to like have men listen to this.” White men who tend to be way over index, compared to the population in hedge funds and in power structures basically. It just stood out to me.

Manisha: I love that it stood out to you and I was thinking, why did it not stand out to me? I honestly think the answer is for the vast majority of my career (and thank God things have changed dramatically in the last 5–10 years), but the majority of my career, I was the only woman in the room. So having a male voice introduce me was nothing new. That just seemed completely normal and for it to be a white male of course, because that was my experience for the first 20 years of my career.

Ryan: So, now we’re going to go back to our normal chronology and getting at the main purpose of the podcast .We started with a lot of professional stuff, but I really want to get to the human story how you grew up and all that stuff.

Manisha: I grew up in a small town called Columbus in Indiana, widely known by architects and nobody else. Which I say because there are two fortune 500 companies headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, which had a population of about 30,000 people when I lived there. The founder, of the original founding family of a Cummins (an engine company) established a foundation so that every public building was designed by a world renowned architect. My grade school was designed by I. M. Pei, my junior high by Eero Saarinen. I mean it was stunning. Architecture students from around the globe would come because of the density of amazing buildings with no traffic. If you don’t mind the corn and the cows, it’s easy to get around. But yes, I grew up in a small town in Indiana.
Ryan: What kind of stuff were you into as a little girl there? Do you have siblings? What was life like?

Manisha: I have a younger brother who is almost eight years younger than me and he is the apple of my eye. I am divorced and childless, and I think I’m like Katherine Hepburn because said she thought she got all of her maternal instincts out on her siblings because there was an age difference there. And I think that may have happened to me too, between my brother and me. My mom is from upstate New York. My Dad came over from India with the proverbial, you know, hundred bucks suitcase and you know, Chutzpah.

Manisha: To the best of my knowledge, I was the only mixed race person in the entire town. There were so few minorities, probably five people of color in entire town. If I think back to high school — I went to high school with 2000 people, there probably were five (max) people of color. So I didn’t fit in from the very beginning. It was a town of blonde cheerleaders and football players and I was none of that.

Manisha: Being a woman and Indian or part Indian, we have hair in all kinds of places, like women should never have hair. Indian moms know to take their daughters to get threaded. Indian moms know how to deal with all the hair that should not be on a woman’s face. But my mom was American and bless her heart, she didn’t know what to do. I was teased mercilessly when I was in school because I didn’t look like everyone else. So, my favorite things were books because they gave me this view on the world and they were a safe place. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in our library, which was stunningly architecturally beautiful because it was a public building. And I just read and read and read and read and read and books were, and are, my friends.

Ryan: I’m not going to jump ahead, but it seemed to pay off because you ended up going to some of the best colleges in the world and we’ll get to that. So you were a bookworm and what were some of your early passions? Say some of your parents’ friends at a cocktail party asked you at 10 years old, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I know that I think you wrote somewhere that is like the worst question to ask, but I’m asking it because I think it does shed some light on how you dreamed as a kid, and that often is not that far off from, the constraints we put on ourselves when we become adults.

Manisha: Well I had the typical 50/50 answer that virtually every Indian child had. You’re either going to say engineer or doctor. I wanted to be a doctor, because it’s so inculcated into the culture and almost all of my cousins have ended up being doctors. In my first year of college in a science course and I realized “okay, this is not going to happen.”

Ryan: For me, I can’t deal with blood or needles. Even when I see them on movies I start to white out and get a high ringing in my ears, I could never be a doctor. But anyways, continue.

Manisha: At that age, that is how I would have answered it. But again, it didn’t come from my heart or my soul. It came from more of a societal and cultural response.

Ryan: Cool. So, you are really into books. You’re still in Columbus, Indiana all the way through high school.

Manisha: Yes. I left when I was 18, and I have not been back to Indiana yet.

Ryan: You went to Wellesley, is that an all women’s school?

Manisha: Yeah, it’s one of the original seven sisters. It’s been all women since its founding in the early 1800’s and all kinds of folks have come out of Wellesley like Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Diane Sawyer and Cokie Roberts. Wellesley has been such a feeder of women into the business community. In fact the greatest number of women, for years, that went to Harvard business school and who ended up in corporate boards are from Wellesley. This status has since widened dramatically. Thank God.

Ryan: You fit that bill, where after college you went to an investment bank and then you went to get your MBA at Harvard. Then did you do something at Oxford too?

Manisha: Yes, I did. I studied at Wellesley. One of the great things about Wellesley is they strongly encourage you to do a semester abroad some time in your junior year. Oxford has their various different ways you can study there, but I enrolled as a visiting student. I was a student of Mansfield College at Oxford where I studied politics, philosophy and economics for the year. Which is great cause. As an alum I can go back anytime and if I want to sleep in a 100 square foot dorm with a twin bed, I can do that for free.

Ryan: So that’s a good example of how you built your wealth by saving.

Manisha: That’s right. I want to say one thing about when you hear somebody’s educational background. It can sound like it’s some grand plan, maybe nowadays it is more of a grand plan, but I always like to put this out there so people can just see how serendipity and following your heart through serendipity can lead to amazing things. No one in my family had ever gone to an Ivy League type school. The only reason I ended up at Wellesley, (rather than Indiana University where everyone from my high school went) was that I babysat for a woman who I thought was the absolute height of chic because she had the Talbots catalog on her coffee table. That blew me away. She had gone to Wellesley, and so she told my parents, I really think you need to take her to see this.

Manisha: My parents were like, what’s the school again? We drove in Indiana in the station wagon and we went all the way out there. I remember getting there and the thing that sold me, because I didn’t fit in in any of the teams sports or any of that stuff growing up, I developed a passion for aerobics. Totally like a Jane Fonda workout. I had like the leg warmers, the whole thing. I taught aerobics when I was in high school to earn money. I saw the aerobics room at Wellesley and I’m like, I gotta go to school here. So that’s what made the decision for me, Talbot Catalogs and aerobics. So, you know, follow your passions.

Ryan: You mentioned you were bullied as a child because you were one of the few people of color in the town, which was something very formative. And speaking of formative times, my daughter is 17 and she’s making the decision in the next six months of where she’s going to college. That is such a catapult or inflection point in your life. And it makes me wonder, was there any obstacle or any major life moment from an independent standpoint that happened in late high school, college and right after college timeframe?

Manisha: It was the juxtaposition of two different things. One, having been so ostracized. Now we would literally call what happened when I was growing up, bullying, but there wasn’t a term for that back then. It was kids being kids. I knew I wanted to be in a position where that would never happen to me again. So when I was at Oxford and I stumbled across Virginia Woolf’s book, A Room of One’s Own, that solidified this drive of guttural desire to never find myself in a situation that I could not financially and logistically get myself out of, so that I wasn’t treated like that again. But the biggest challenge was one that I didn’t come to really understand until only about five years ago, which is probably at some time between high school and into college.

Manisha: I developed bipolar disorder, and mental health is something that people don’t talk about. The mental health system is a whole other subject you can dive into, on how difficult it is to navigate. But for years I was told, oh, you have a little bit of depression or you have a little bit of anxiety. But no, I was full-on with anxiety and depression and bipolar too. I look back and I think it was nothing but that sheer grit and determination not to feel like the way I felt when I was growing up that enabled me to push through the huge swings that I had between mania and depression. In retrospect, I think I have no idea how I made it through that undiagnosed. I basically had star wars going on in my head for 20 years.

Ryan: Wow. That is so incredible. My father-in-law had bipolar and for someone like me who has a family that doesn’t have any experience with that, it seems debilitating and almost impossible to push through like you did. Especially when it’s never like a solid state because the meds are always being tempered with. That’s hard.
Manisha: I didn’t use to talk about it. Now I talk about it constantly because I want to help normalize the conversation around mental health and encouraged people to get help, because most of the time people are struggling. Mental illness and health difficulties can come in two different formats. One is chemical. It’s genetic. Oftentimes it runs through families. My grandmother, (we now know what was wrong), but at the time she was institutionalized and had electroshock therapy. It’s very clear she had bipolar, they used to call it manic depression. But back then, no one talked about that or cancer. I want to get people talking about it more. Oftentimes it’s misdiagnosed because it’s become so common because another form is situationally induced depression and anxiety.

Manisha: There’s a wonderful book out called Lost Connections that a gentleman named, Johann Hari, who is experiencing depression and wanted to dive into it, explores the degree to which that form of mental struggles has been exacerbated by the lost connections that we have with each other as humans. So there are two types, situational and chemical. And it’s the chemical one that makes me realize I have no idea how I pushed through. None. Which is why I want to help other people. Now that I have the meds and my head is quiet, and you’re right, the meds constantly have to be readjusted, but it’s night and day from what I was. I just thought that’s what life was, shitty.

Ryan: A past entrepreneur that I had on this podcast, Jessie Dooley who runs burn cycle, opened up about struggling with depression. My question to her was as a family member, really close friend or a spouse of someone with depression: How, how do you feel best supported? Which was the wrong question to ask at the time. But having you break down to the situational versus the chemical and just having more awareness and education around it, even for allies or a support mechanism like is helpful. If anybody has like book recommendations or other podcasts to listen to, I’m very interested about learning more about that. I think I probably had situational depression when I had a near business death experience and all of that. But I don’t have experience with the chemical side and so it seems like I am not connected to a family member that may be going through that. Anyway we can talk offline of any books you might recommend.

Manisha: I’ll just say for listeners, if you literally Google podcasts on mental health or mental illness, there are a wide range of them out there, with people sharing really inspirational stories of how they got help and so forth. The other thing I’ll just mention is even with the most loving, amazing, incredible, supportive parents on the planet, they kept saying “it’s in your head, it’s in your head.” Well, it was in my head but not in the way they thought it was in my head. So, I think your question, “how do you support?”, is one I don’t have the answer to, but I think it’s one we as a society need to start asking more because one out of three people on the planet are struggling with either situational or chemical forms of mental struggles.

Ryan: I’m glad we’re talking about it because it is such an important thing because it affects how we move through the world, whether we have depression or whether we have a loved one with a depression. Basically everyone is affected, and if we don’t have the language for it and the awareness of it, we’re all suffering in some some way.

Ryan: Moving on from that… You’ve been in investment banking and you have this amazing professional history, but then you made the leap to become an entrepreneur and in a way build your own personal brand because you started MoneyZen. It seems like the business model behind that 1) supports the work and the clientele that you do at Brighton Jones, but 2) it’s book sales, speaking opportunities, things like that. What was the driver for writing your first book when there’s lots of personal finance books out there. Although, maybe there’s not that many in 2007 that are focused around empowering women’s confidence in investing. But what was your driver? What was the, “okay, I’m going to write this and actually follow through.” Those are two big things.

Manisha: It came from exhaustion. My dearest girlfriend from Harvard business school and I both went into finance and we kept getting asked the same questions by our friends. At this point, we are in our late twenties and early thirties, and we realized how many really smart people needed this information. My coauthor Sharon who went to Harvard business school and her identical twin sister, Irese, who went to Harvard medical school (both from an immigrant family, their whole story up from the bootstraps). But it was Irese that really was the impetus behind it because we realized after hearing from her and her friends their struggle with personal finance. We would recommend books that we loved because we were finance geeks and they’d think they were boring, so what we wanted to do is create a completely jargon free book that was not dumbed down. But most importantly it was super short, because if you don’t like finance, why would you want to read a long book about it? And so it started by accident as so many entrepreneurial things do. It’s now in its second edition, and I think Simon and Schuster will probably do a third edition. It’s been such a joy because it’s really focused on helping women in their twenties and thirties, and that’s when we could make the biggest impact on any man or woman’s life financially.

Ryan: What came first, did the book come first or were you already getting a lot of speaking opportunities? How did you build your brand to then be on CNBC, MSNBC and CNN, all these places (close to 100 media outlets)? When you write a book, it doesn’t just get read by all these people, like there’s millions of books out there that sell maybe a thousand copies. And that’s it. How did you build your personal brand? Did you come up with MoneyZen afterwards? How did that all work?

Manisha: When On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide To Personal Finance (the first book that came out), I had been in an intra-preneurial situation where I was working for a longstanding investment management firm in Houston that focused on the corporate market. I saw an opportunity for us to offer our services in a scalable way to individuals. I built out from the ground up, a business that ultimately collected $6 billion in assets under management. The proverbial 10 year overnight success. I built that out and, and it at the peak of that period when the idea for MoneyZen came up. So, we wrote the book, and because we were very well compensated at the time, we were able to hire a great PR firm and they went out and it just turned out that again, by luck, when I was building this $6 billion firm, I had to go out and start giving talks.

Manisha: I clearly remember my very first talk. It was at a steak house way out in the suburbs of Houston. I was dry heaving the entire way from the office to the steak house because I was so terrified of speaking in front of this huge audience of 12 people. That’s how scared I was of public speaking. But as I grew that business over that time period, I’d be pitching constantly for investors, and I just got better and better and better at speaking. When the book came out and we started doing PR, it became very clear to the TV folks or the print or the radio folks that I actually was a good guest. So one thing led to another, so I didn’t plan it.

Manisha: I just had the gift for the gab back then. In particular, they needed more women who could talk about a range of financial topics. I was able to do it in a way that made the media outlets jobs very easy. Whenever somebody pitched to me or asked me to come on, I would basically create the segment for them, which they could then just edit. So I became a very easy guest and it’s a small community. So one person recommends you to one book and recommends you to the next, to the next, to the next. That’s how it started. I mean, other than that one year of PR, it’s all been inbound requests that came from that first snowball.

Ryan: That’s awesome. That’s super cool. Because you’re breaking new ground, I was interested to know, if you had to pick one person who inspires you out there, it doesn’t have to be in your field, but who might that be and why?

Manisha: Absolutely, Katherine Hepburn. She was like, screw it. I am who I am and I’m just gonna do it my way. We look back now and it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the fact that she was like, “I’m flipping wearing pants because they are more comfortable,” that was revolutionary. Her feeling that she was going to live the way she wanted to live, and then she did it, has just been an endless source of inspiration to me. In fact, she has a quote that says “men and women should just live next door to each other and visit from time to time.” Now that I’m divorced, I’m like, gosh, that’s really true. My boyfriend just bought a unit in my building so that we can live next door to each other and just visit from time to time. She usually inspires me in many ways.

Manisha: But I’ll just add one other thing because I feel like a lot of people don’t understand what I do and I want to explain it a little bit because I think it can give people some understanding of the fact there are various different ways you can be an entrepreneur. Getting back to MoneyZen, you asked me if it came before or after the book. It came after the book. It ended up being this default bucket into which I could put all of these different opportunities that were coming to meet. They included everything from speaking to consulting, to being a corporate spokesperson. I’ve done things for American Express and a wide range of corporations over the years. It’s always changing what I’m doing in that bucket. We now call it having a side Gig. But back then there wasn’t a name for it. It was like, the old fashioned motorcycle is my main job, and then I have like the sidecar. So I’ve always had some type of main corporate job which has benefited from the stuff that is living in the MoneyZen bucket and that bucket is constantly changing depending on what it is that I can help people with.

Ryan: I’d say this podcast is my sidecar that I make absolutely zero money, but it fills me up. Because we get to have really meaningful conversations. So with that, I want to just really thank you for being on the show and for spreading your wings and having Portland get to know you a little bit better. Our 12 listeners, no I’m kidding we have a couple hundred out there. Hopefully you get to have coffee meetings with lots of other entrepreneurs that may listen in and other people in marketing and stuff like that. So thank you again for being here.

Manisha: Ryan, it’s a pleasure. And I really would like to put some deeper roots down in Portland. My website is, and my personal email and my cell phone are on there. If people want to chat about mental health or being bullied in school, or anything else, I’m in as long as it’s over coffee.

Ryan: I love that you share so openly, so thanks again.

The author, Ryan Buchanan, is a social and for-profit entrepreneur who co-founded a pathway to leadership program for professionals of color calledEmerging Leaders as well as founder + CEO of a data-driven, digital marketing agency, eROI.