Humbled

40.jpgI would like to thank the Birmingham Business Journal for honoring me with the Top 40 Under 40 award this morning. I feel especially humbled by and grateful to our amazing clients whom I am privileged to help every single day. I’m also extremely thankful for our great team at GLF that share the vision Trent and I have. We believe God has called us to make a difference in this dark world and I consider our clients to be the greatest purpose for working in and striving to improve the financial services industry.

This recognition makes me think about all the great mentors in my life who have molded me in some way but, more importantly, it reminds me that God has gifted us all with special talents because He has someone else in mind for us to help. As you go throughout your day today, I encourage you to remember this. There is nothing more important. If you need financial or business coaching, please reach out to me today. I’d be honored to work with you. #top40under40 #Godisgood #grinkmeyerleonardfinancial

-Valerie

**Birmingham Business Journal’s top 40 under 40 recognizes young professionals in Birmingham, based on their contributions to their company, their impact on the business world, and their role in the community.

5 Tips to Turn Your Dream into a Career

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It’s not considered work if you love what you do for a living, but could you actually make the something you love into a career? There are many career options out there, some you’ve thought of and some that are so bizarre might not have crossed your mind. There’s always a rising star popping up in the media, there’s always a new best-selling author, there’s even a guy who sells snow! The possibilities are endless as far as how you can make money and more importantly how you can turn your dream into a career. How exactly do you go about doing so? Use these tips to get started.

1.) Educate yourself: If you want to work in a particular field, you have to know it inside and out. Research what it takes to make it in your chosen profession, take necessary classes, or even find a mentor whose walked the same path and found success at the end of it. Educating yourself on everything involved in your dream will bring you closer to seeing it unfold before your eyes.

2.) Make goals: Once you’re aware of how to go about obtaining a position in your career choice, you can begin planning the necessary steps that’ll take you from where you are now to where you see yourself in the future. Setting goals not only pushes you through the journey, but allows you to see your accomplishments along the way.

3.) Work hard: As important as it is to set goals, there will be no progress if you don’t reach them. Put forth your best effort in any free time you can manage so you can achieve each goal and move on to the next one.

4.) Don’t make up excuses: Doubt will visit you without an invitation; it will lead you down a trail of thoughts which will have you questioning your worth, your talent, and your time spent. This is an inevitable factor. What is in your power is whether or not you let doubt consume you, and if you don’t want your hard work to go to waste, don’t allow it to stay. Maintain confidence, remain focused, and keep telling yourself you’re almost there.

5.) Don’t let failure stop you: Not everyone has an insane amount of luck to succeed on the first try. If you do, that’s great, but for the rest of us who have to face rejection, we must understand that it’s okay to fail. One or even multiple failures does not set you up for a lifetime of failing. You don’t stay on the ground when you fall, you get back up, brush yourself off, and keep going. So don’t give up; keep moving forward.

 

Integrate Life into Your Today

shutterstock_176813414 copyLet’s all just face it, sometimes it is just what it is.  I’m a wife first. A mom second. I’m a business owner third. And I don’t always get a hot second to spend on myself. True, we have complete control over the great majority of our circumstances, but sometimes elements of the life we have now are unchangeable – at least for the time being.  I don’t want to change anything about life today except for one thing…I want to slow down and enjoy it more! There is joy in living in the moment, so why waste even a smidgen of happiness or a minute of life???

The poet, William Earnest Henley, said it best in his poem Invictus when he wrote “I am the master of my fate”. You always have a choice. Choose wisely. So since I often have to talk out loud to myself to get myself to listen, here’s some advice I’m shouting today:

1.) Every day do at least one thing that makes you happy. There is no magic list. Do not listen to anyone else’s suggestions. You know what makes you smile, so smile today!

2.) Make a plan and make it a habit. Just like brushing your teeth, or jump starting your morning with caffeine – make this a priority on a daily basis.

3.) Make a mental list of the things you have mastered already in life. You know what they are – these are the areas where you receive accolades, awards and “at–a-boys”. You have a full twenty-four hours every day. Pick one, do it better than anyone else can, and feel fulfilled and accomplished.

4.) Be a friend, call a friend, help a friend or make a new friend. Interpersonal relationships have tangible power. Infuse each new day with a heaping dose.

5.) Feed your body; eating healthy foods increases your stamina and keeps illness at bay. (It’s shameful how lucky I feel on days where I miss only one meal!) Feed your mind. Read, read, and read. Keep abreast on current events, buy trade journals in your area of expertise, subscribe to how-to publications – just read daily. Lastly, at least once every day, do whatever feeds your soul.  Prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise, Bible study, journaling; whatever gives you inner peace.

Become your own life coach, and integrate life into your today. When you are ready to integrate new life into your financial future, make us the friend you call. Contact us  – you will be happy you did!

3 Things You Need to Hear but Don’t Want to

12436236_10153860979392650_1672561612_oThey say the truth hurts.  It’s a hard pill to swallow – like the time my two-year-old recently pointed out that she’s excited to see I’m going to have another baby.  “No, honey.  No baby in this belly,” and thanks for pointing out that I’m obviously fat!

But don’t you think that cutting out the crap and getting to the meat and potatoes of this life is really all that’s important?  Think about it.  Maybe I do need some exercise.  Maybe I do need to hear something that makes me cringe.  After all, the friend who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear, is the best friend of all.

So here’s the meat and potatoes – after 13+ years as a financial advisor, I’m still blown away by the people who just don’t get it.  The story is almost always the same…it’s a couple who has decent income, they don’t live extravagantly, one’s a spender and one’s decent with money, they have some debt, are underfunded for retirement and college savings, and they don’t understand that it won’t just all come together perfectly.  The hard truth:

  1. Debt kills you.
  2. Savings won’t just happen one day.
  3. It doesn’t ever get cheaper to live.

None of these people are dumb.  They’re just living the way society tells us we all should live.  It’s peer pressure at its’ core and it’s contagious!

Have you ever seriously thought about what it would be like to have zero debt?  How much would it cost you to live?  What if all you had to pay for were utilities, clothes, and food?  Would you have to save as much for retirement?  Would you have to work as many hours as you do now?

Did you know it’s entirely possible to pay off your mortgage in 5 years? What about your car payment?  Wouldn’t it be easier to not have one and pay for every car in the future with cash?  With proper planning in place, these are all realistic examples of goals that can be accomplished without being rich.

Food (meat and potatoes) for thought…

If you liked this or know someone who would, subscribe and share away!  ~Val

5 Tips for Winning at New Year’s Resolutions

winning at new years resolutionsJust yesterday when chatting about turning the page to 2016 a friend said to me, “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I didn’t become a better person!”

Ok, here’s the thing.  We all have something we really want.  We think about it often, it’s in the back of our minds every single day in some way or another and it’s very personal to us.  Getting fit and healthy perhaps?  A new business endeavor?  Organizing your life?  Spending less and saving more?  Enjoying more time with friends and family?  Simply put, one of two things have happened – we’ve either made a conscience choice not to pursue our goal or we’ve likely failed before at trying to achieve it.

If you’re contemplating a New Year’s Resolution for 2016, you should know that scientific research tells us you have a 92% chance of failure*.  So what are the winning 8% doing successfully?  They’re throwing glitter at the new year and kicking adversity in the face!  Here’s how:

  1. They Want It! Sometimes we just think we want something, a stark difference than truly wanting it. Other times we think we should do something because of outside influences but we don’t actually want to do it. Start by asking yourself, am I making this resolution just because…or do I want it so badly I will sacrifice whatever it takes to make it happen?
  2. They have their priorities straight. When looking at your life, you need a list of your top five priorities. Write them down right now. Seriously. Write them down. If your resolution doesn’t fit into the top five, you’re going to have a tough time achieving it. Consider focusing on another goal that is perfectly aligned with one of your priorities.
  3. They are confident their goal WILL be achieved. Research indicates that the winning 8% have a higher degree of confidence than those who eventually fail. You should consider your confidence level. If you are not at least 70% convinced you’ll make it happen, it’s not worth your commitment or energy.
  4. They don’t tell anyone about it. Numerous scientific studies dating back to the 1920s support the idea that you should keep your resolutions to yourself.   Seems backwards from what we’re taught, huh? And it’s not just about self-accountability. Think about the feeling and emotions that would come from telling your friends your goal has been achieved. It’s a euphoric idea, isn’t it? Science tells us that when we share a big goal with our friends, your mind is tricked into thinking it’s already been reached.   When your goals are acknowledged by others, it feels real to your brain – like social substitution for that euphoric state. Moral of the story, don’t Facebook your resolutions this year!
  5. They embrace the power of positive thinking. We all have a choice to tell ourselves we will succeed or tell ourselves we won’t. As one of the most victorious Biblical characters, David said, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is,” Proverbs 23:7. When establishing a new habit your first step should be to create an ongoing practice of constructive thoughts. A pattern of negativity will simply squash your big plans.

I’d love to share more ideas with you on living a life on the north side of average!  Subscribe and share today!  Happy New Year to you!

*John Norcross, University of Scranton, 1985

The Art of Dancing Backwards in High Heels

dancing backOh the irony! I actually can’t dance. I don’t have a coordinated bone in my body and my husband has fallen out of his chair laughing at me one too many times when I’ve tried. But, he knows better than anyone that I’m a master – and I mean award-winning champion – at dancing backwards in high heels!

The struggle is real but the payoff is incredible when you learn this dancing art. There are over 9.9 million women-owned businesses in this country that generate over $1.6 TRILLION in revenue and the growth rate at which these companies are taking off is unprecedented! But as an owner of several thriving businesses myself, I’m no stranger to wiping bottoms while simultaneously fishing the remote control out of the toilet just 2 minutes prior to running out the door with sloppy kiss stains on my silk blouse. Don’t worry…two bottles of antibacterial soap stand ready by every sink in our home.

But here’s the thing. The days with deadlines that can’t be missed, employees who have questions every time we turn around, e-mails out the whazoo (is that even a word?), 32 missed phone calls, kids to cart around, computers that can’t think as fast as we can, opportunities that you don’t want to turn down, invoices that need to be sent, accounting fiascos, legal questions, continuing education marathons, and staplers without staples when you need them most – these days are the norm for even the most successful business owners! Whatever or whomever gave us the idea when we first started out that being a business owner was all glitter and glam is the culprit of all the stress and anxiety we manufacturer in our lives.

Luckily, it can be easier! Yes, you heard me. Take it from the gal who choreographed the backwards moves to the tune of Areosmith’s “Dream On.” Here’s what you need to know to get it right:

  1. Stay grounded and keep your priorities straight – I’ve learned from dancing straight through the fire that my relationship with my maker has to be #1, my husband is #2, my kids are #3, and my business and all the folks I serve within it are #4. I’m pretty sure my clients would agree that that’s the way it should be. My confidence comes from the fact I work with people I love and respect and who feel the same about me. This is an absolute MUST! Life is too short to fill your life with people you can never please or help at the end of the day.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – I’m already finding the old saying “it takes a village” to raise your kids is so incredibly true for me. I’m certain God didn’t intend for me to be a stay-at-home mom because he gave me different strengths and talents. That doesn’t mean I’m neglecting my children or not giving them the attention, love, and care they deserve. It means I do everything I can to be the very best mom I can be, and we surround them with people who have God-given gifts to fill in the gaps. The same is true in business. There ARE people out there that are better than you at bookkeeping, scheduling, technology, etc. Learn to play to your own strengths while keeping your priorities straight and God will handle the rest.
  3. Take care of yourself – I’m not the world’s greatest at this one; however, I am positive that I feel my best when I do get enough rest, eat healthy, exercise, and pencil-in down time. These activities equip you for the juggling acts and demands of others.
  4. Be confident – Learn to recognize that the source of your strength is from a God in whom nothing is impossible. As long as you’re listening to and obeying Him, you have absolutely positively no reason to doubt. God wants to bless us. He wants us to be happy. He loves us. Therefore, we need to be assured in His plans for us and embrace challenges, frustrations, and opportunities alike.

Are you a business-owner or professional with a broken high heel? How can I help you???

– Valerie R. Leonard, AIF®

* U.S. Census, 2012

You’ve Got to Stand for Something or You’ll Fall for Anything

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“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.  You’ve got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string.”  – Aaron Tippin

Are you a bold person?  Do you have strong convictions and only share them with friends and family?  Is it your nature to be reserved and easily intimidated?  For me, it is.  I’ve always been more concerned about what people might think about me than what I truly believe in.  Recently, however, I’ve come to the realization that my own selfishness is stopping me from carrying out God’s will for my life.  Who am I to squander the gifts and knowledge he has instilled in me and keep them for myself?

This morning as we prepare to go out into this world, let’s challenge ourselves to do something bold today.  Let’s push ourselves out of our comfort zone.  For you, it may be asking a prospect for new business, showing someone how much you care about them, seeking out a new job, or pointing out something that a friend needs to hear instead of what they want to hear.  For me, I plan on telling a random stranger how much God has changed my life.  Be bold, live a life north of average, and do it TODAY!