On February 25, 2012, the 26th anniversary of our EDSA People Power Revolution, I listened to the talk of Suze Orman who discussed another kind of freedom – Financial Freedom.
Suze Orman is a famous bestselling author, financial adviser, tv show host who tells you in your face, “You are denied!” She has won the most Gracie awards (awards for women with exemplary contributions in electronic media), named one of the most influential women by Time Magazine, and one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine.
It was a well-attended event sponsored by BPI at the NBC Tent for its clients. Thanks to Tere Javier, head of Trust, who invited me to this event, I was able to listen to this financial powerhouse.
Suze started her talk by saying that she was not paid to do it. It was her desire to help Filipinos gain power over their money that made her come. She has a soft spot for Filipinos because she employs Filipinos in her household staff and her company’s call center is in the Philippines. She received a warm applause for this.
She said, “You will never be powerful in anything until you have power over your money!” This may sound too strong in a country where a lot of its people are still uncomfortable talking about money, with a big percentage of its population below the poverty level and where a lot of people may still be confused about the real meaning of “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
She went on to explain that we need money in all aspects of our life. She also said that no matter what difficulties one is facing, be it about money or other major problems, there is always hope to improve one’s lot. She told us her story to make her point.
Suze was born 61 years ago and grew up in a rough neighborhood in the south side of Chicago. Her parents were poor and could not afford to move to a better neighborhood. Her mother worked as a secretary while her father had a chicken shack under the train station which was burned to the ground leaving him penniless because it wasn’t insured. He also developed emphysema and was sickly hindering his ability to work.
As a child, Suze had a speech impediment, which also gave her difficulty in reading. She always scored lowest in class that she didn’t get any grade higher than a C. She actually felt she was dumb and wouldn’t amount to anything! When she finished her B.A. in Social Work she bought herself a van using the money lent by her brother. She drove up to California and for months lived in that van. She got a job as a waitress in Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, California in 1973 earning $400/month. After working there for seven years she thought she could have a better life by putting up her own restaurant. So one day she called up her mother, “Mama, I think I want to put up my own my restaurant, can you lend me $20,000?” Sadly, even if her mother wanted to help her, there was just no money to lend.
This made Suze heartbroken which was noticed by Fred, one of her regular customers, “What’s up Miss Sunshine? Why are you looking so sad?” She told him the reason. Upon hearing her story, Fred gathered all of Suze’s loyal customers and was able to do an instant fundraising for their favorite waitress. He handed her cash and checks amounting to $50,000! Suze was ecstatic as it was the biggest amount of money she had ever seen in her life.
Suze went to Merrill Lynch to invest the money. She was attended to by Randy, a stock broker who advised her to make a quick buck on her cash. In no time, Suze lost all her money.
Bruised but not about to give up, Suze went to Merrill Lynch and applied to be a stock broker. At that time there were no female brokers in the company but it was an opportune time because that year companies were mandated by law to hire women. She was hired with a pay of $1,500/month. While studying the rules of handling clients’ money, she learned that what Randy did to her was wrong. She was made to appear as a sophisticated investor (which she was not) putting her money in risky investment, which ultimately made her lose all her cash. When Suze pointed this out to her boss Peter, she was made to shut up because Randy was making a lot of money for the firm.
Suze sued Merrill Lynch while she was still its employee. She won the case and consequently, became one of its top performing financial advisers. Later on, she put her own company and eventually became an internationally acclaimed personal finance expert.
Suze’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom:
Suze believes that in our quest for financial freedom, we should always remember that It’s people first before money. Here are her steps to getting back that power over money:
- See how your past holds the key to your financial future.
- Face your fears and create new truths.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Be responsible to those you love.
- Be respectful of yourself and of your money.
- Trust yourself more than you trust others.
- Be open to receive all that you are meant to have
- Understand the ebb and flow of the money cycle.
- Recognize true wealth.
Suze’s 5 Laws of Life:
She believes that if we live by these laws, true riches of all kinds will come our way:
- May every thought that you think be etched in fire in the sky for the whole world to see, for in fact it is.
- May every word that you say be said as if everyone in the world could hear it, for in fact they can.
- May every deed that you do recoil on top of your head for in fact it will.
- May every wish that you wish another be a wish that you wish for yourself, because in fact it is.
- May everything that you do be done as if God Himself is doing it, for in fact He is.
The entire talk and the Q&A were delivered in a lively Suze Orman fashion. The morning ended with a happy and hopeful audience. My sister, niece and I who attended the talk shared our insights during lunch. We were glad that we didn’t have to stand up when Suze asked those with credit card and other debts to stand up and face their fears. We were thankful that we were brought up by our frugal Ilocano parents to live within our means.