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Female Founders: Kathleen Adams of Second 50 Financial On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Invest in yourself continuously. This means health, learning, and fun. Spend money to take advantage of 21st century breakthroughs to increase vitality and improve health; think outside the box for your health and education; combine it with fun travel or time with friends. (this is easier to do when you “know your numbers”).

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Adams, Second 50 Financial

Kathleen Adams, CFP, CPWA, entrepreneur, co-founder of Second 50 Financial, LLC, and author of soon-to-be released “Second 50: Achieve Financial Confidence/ Increase Opportunity/Leverage Vitality.” She has been in the Lifestyle Preservation business for over 20 years, and together with her team, has developed a unique process to address the expanded needs of successful owners and entrepreneurs who are enjoying a wonderful lifestyle that requires a different type of plan.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My story involves a significant career change triggered by my dad’s story of leaving a highly successful 40-year dental practice with an unsuccessful outcome. He enjoyed a fantastic lifestyle, loved what he did, and gave us an amazing childhood. He had no plans to stop working, however, an unexpected health issue forced him to do so. Despite having lifelong banking/tax/legal advisors, no one advised him of how to plan for a fantastic life without his business income. I was supposed to follow in his footsteps and practiced dental hygiene with him but did not have any interest in dental school. When things started going so wrong for him, I finally realized what I truly wanted to do and went back to school to study financial planning.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Finding out how happy people were that we had left a prestigious partnership with a big firm and how much people liked the fact that my colleague David Swift and I co-founded Second 50 together. Over and over again people said that they felt they got the best of both worlds working with David (younger and male) and me (in my Second 50 and female). We found that we then easily differentiated our roles with clients and were able to specialize in doing what each of us loves doing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My first goal was to be a hero to dental practitioners, especially dental hygienists who earned a good income, were typically female working part-time, and rarely had any retirement benefits. Hoping to maximize their hard-earned income and gain more financial knowledge, I wrote a column for their professional magazine and spoke at conferences. But no one had any interest! Not one person even wanted my complimentary consultation! I thought I was the perfect fit financial advisor for them. My lesson is be ready to pivot when Plan A fails and don’t be upset with yourself for the mistake….just learn from it!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My Dad was the biggest inspiration; however, my business achieved the most success by working with Dan Sullivan at Strategic Coach. I had tried other coaches before that, but nothing compared to joining his community of big thinkers and utilizing his thinking tools. He and his members gave me incredible self-confidence; literally lit a fire in me to take strategic risks and move forward. It helped me feel “normal” because starting my own business later in life, as well as being female, often left me feeling alone and uncertain. There is nothing like having other successful entrepreneurs to brainstorm with because even your well-meaning family and friends won’t be able to help you in the same way.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

In my view, in the big picture for many younger women, it’s worrying about compromising time with their family, as well as lack of belief in what they can really do with their lives. We often, me included, don’t know what we really want to do, which is the absolute first step. Even if we change later, we need an initial destination.

The second issue is women don’t usually have a supportive team or community to help move them forward. To me this is critical for women in business, and it doesn’t have to be a women-only group. The third concern is the need for women to gain a better understanding of their own financial situation so they can move forward with more clarity and confidence.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I believe that there should be more options for childcare including more quality day care and pre-school facilities. This is not an easy fix, however I feel there should be more help from local communities and states in this area, no matter what your level of wealth. There is a shortage of quality childcare.

I’d also love to see women have more exposure to fantastic coaching groups as that was a huge game changer for me. I do not believe they need to seek women-only groups as there is so much benefit in having a variety of mindsets and skill sets from men and women. As individuals, women need to believe in themselves and their capabilities — especially if they want to make a change later in life. The media and other authority sources must stop portraying women in their Second 50 years running around smiling on a beach or playing with grandkids. They are capable of so much more during this time in their lives.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I believe we are excellent at building relationships which is an essential component of running a successful business. We are also amazing at learning new things as we go. Keep in mind that most women with a family get through the first pregnancy, then manage a family while still running the show at home or work while figuring out how to become a great parent- those are natural leadership skills plus lifelong learning. Essential components of a successful business owner. Lastly, we love to problem solve (family life creates nonstop opportunities!) and the majority of successful business owners are there to solve a problem. Think about who usually steps in first when an elderly parent needs help.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

That you must “pay your dues” to become a founder. I disagree. There can be a lot of time and work involved but sometimes your entrepreneurial idea blossoms more quickly than you might imagine and you find yourself running a business in almost lightning speed. Often it does take lots of hard work and some failures, but be ready for either. Also, that you will need a huge skill set and advanced education; it’s more about your unique ability and how you put it to use by leveraging your innate understanding of collaboration and delegation. Lastly, feeling like you need to be the know-it-all expert on most everything that makes your business a success. Its always going to be a team effort or a collaboration and this can create exponential growth.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Founders are usually very entrepreneurial at heart and were either very restless being an employee or never wanted to be one. They are willing to take risks and not afraid to fail. This means maintaining your confidence, being ready to make decisions, and usually being a visionary who brings the future into the present. That isn’t for everyone. I firmly believe there are various kinds of people who become employees. The 9 am-5 pm group (do your thing and leave) or the “intrapreneurs” who see the importance of their position, take responsibility for it, have pride in their daily work, and feel they are a part of something bigger. In this case, they are fulfilled much as a founder, but with a risk level that lets them sleep well at night.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Know yourself really well. Take the right individual assessments like Kolbe and StrengthsFinder. I did both and was shocked at my results — each showed me traits and strengths I hadn’t considered. I thought I did things simply to help others but I am actually also an achiever who thrives on doing well. It’s better to assess yourself as an individual — just for yourself versus to see how you fit on a board or a team.

2. Get a coach and community. My best move came joining Strategic Coach. The right coach gives you tools to problem solve and strategize; the right people in the room keep you connected to “big thinkers” which is VIP in our world. Most great coaches will start with telling you to “know your numbers” which is key to running any business.

3. Invest in yourself continuously. This means health, learning, and fun. Spend money to take advantage of 21st century breakthroughs to increase vitality and improve health; think outside the box for your health and education; combine it with fun travel or time with friends. (this is easier to do when you “know your numbers”).

4. Delegate. Hire a team member before you think you are ready since you rarely think you are ready financially with a new business. Step into the most important role for your business based on what you love to do and are great at, then delegate or outsource the rest.

5. Ask for help. As you grow in knowledge and success it might become hard to ask others for help and risk looking less capable — don’t let this stop you from raising your hand. Know that there are tons of people smarter than you who are ready to help if you ASK.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We are focused on helping people in their second 50 years have the financial confidence they need to truly enjoy this time of life when they stop working. This means we are also promoting opportunity expansion to allow the great wisdom and wealth of this generation to continue creating a positive impact on the world the way boomers have always done — whether it’s through a new company that solves a problem, a philanthropic project that may generate revenue while teaching others to help themselves, mentoring young people who also want to change the world; possibly allowing for reverse mentoring as young and old can learn from each other. As we do this, we are exposing them to the newest health research, bio-hacks, and cures available through my extensive resources acquired from highly specialized professional groups. There’s no wealth, no real joy, without health. We want people to live with the most vitality and good health possible, so they have a zest for life and continue to change the world no matter what their age.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My dream is to start the “Second 50 Movement” nationally, and then globally. The majority of people in their Second 50 years are boomers; one of the largest, wealthiest, most highly educated groups to ever enter this time in life. The 62–72 group will be filled with around 32 million Boomers every year. I want the world to stop viewing the aging population as a crisis and consider it an opportunity.

Boomers are by nature change makers and problem solvers. Imagine if we could start small communities across the country of like-minded people in the 60–90-year-old age group who are looking for something more to do with their money, time, and wisdom! Putting even a few brains in conversation groups or workshops together will create super brain power. Who knows what problems they could tackle around what they care most about — or what they might develop or create given their vast experience and wealth — or what they could learn together that they had never explored in their previous careers. My new learning passion is quantum physics and it’s opened a whole new world of possibility and people for me! The Second 50 Movement is ready to unite Boomers and help make the world a better place.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Kathy Ireland! She has done such amazing things with her life and her wealth. I didn’t realize until recently that she is also involved with financial education. It would be such an honor to connect with her and possibly learn more about how she generates such interest in her causes and business ventures while doing so much to help others.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Female Founders: Kathleen Adams of Second 50 Financial On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.