It is one thing to become a leader; it is another to teach others what you know. Finding opportunity in the convergence of leadership and education, Mel Parker became the President and CEO of Take The Limits Off—a leadership development executive coaching and consulting firm. Mel takes us to his own experiences that instilled in his lessons about leadership, from the wisdom he learned from his grandmother to moving from his military background and up the corporate ladder. Learn more from Mel as he talks about the importance of diversity, building trust, intellectual curiosity, and good coaching skills.
Also with her own share of humble beginnings, Timolin Langin has learned about the power we, as working people, hold to carve out the life of our dreams. As the Founder and President of New Fit World TV, Timolin has been helping others pursue the life they want by being strategic with their money. She gives out great advice on how you can manage your cash and let your money work as a tool to make more opportunities for you. She shares some creative ways you could do to increase the value of your money and tips from when to use credit cards to owning a home.
We have Mel Parker and Timolin Langin here. Mel is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Take the Limits Off and Timolin is the Founder and President of a New Fit World TV. Both of them have interesting backgrounds and it led to such amazing successes that I think you’re going to find this very inspiring.
Listen to the podcast here:
Lessons On Leadership With Mel Parker
I am here with Mel Parker, who’s an internationally recognized inspirational leader known for his ability to turn around and transform businesses while generating optimal value for shareholders, customers, and team members. He is the President and CEO of Take the Limits Off, a leadership development executive coaching and consulting firm. He’s also the author of The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers. He’s shared his leadership and success strategies with audiences around the world. That’s a very formal introduction. I want to know. Tell me who you are. Give me a little background on you. Tell me a little bit about how you got to be this CEO of Take the Limits Off and author of Parker Principles and all that. What was the backstory for you?
As I’ve had my 50th birthday, it’s dawned on me that the story has become longer. The story from the beginning to the end is long and much longer, but that’s okay. I’m thankful for it and I will try to condense it a bit. Believe it or not, despite the nice suits now, I started as a simple country born. I was born in the 1960s to a single mom on my grandmother’s pig and tobacco farm in the backwoods of North Carolina. It was different. You were more likely to be driving on a dirt road than a paved road. We were resource-challenged.
Pig and tobacco are an interesting combination too.
It was an interesting time. You learned what being below the poverty line or being poor was like. While we were resource-challenged, my grandmother never was. In her mind, she had enough faith and enough strength to pull us through. One of the great things about her was she knew that education was going to be the way out of the situation that we were in or that I was in. She probably did the most important thing for me at that moment is she got me a public library card. I know only us older people would remember the nice public library. You had to leave your house. The beautiful thing about the public library is when you are poor, it was the one place that has heat in the winter and it has air conditioning in the summer. It was a place you could go to, but the librarians made you read. I became an insatiable, hungry and maniacal devourer of books, curiosity beyond craziness. The more that I read, the hungry I became. It dawned on me that the world was bigger than my situation and I didn’t know how big it was.
Your perception changes, doesn’t it?
Everything changes. She was focused on education and I was starting to read. I was a big science fiction fan. In science fiction, every story, there was always a hero and the hero was some type of leader and they led against the robots or against the aliens. They did something and people followed. When people followed, great things happen. It dawned on me that at the convergence or juxtaposition of leadership and education might be an opportunity.
That’s interesting that you had that imagination. Did you end up liking sci-fi on television or just books? I’m curious. Is it Picard or Kirk? Who’s better?
It’s always Kirk because Kirk was the first. It translated into television, but back then television was like three channels, but it translated that. That gave me my dream. I knew that if this was to believe that the world was bigger than what I saw every day. Believe it or not, the second thing was comic books. Comic books gave me resilience because every comic book hero had to go through something horrible. Superman lost his planet, Batman lost his parents and Spider-Man lost his uncle. It told me that this situation that I’m in, it was a part of my becoming. I had to stick it through and figure it out. That helped me get through the hard times of childhood. It got me focused on the impossible of trying to go to West Point.
Have you done a TED Talk on that by chance? I had Kate Adams on and she did the lessons you can learn from soap opera. She was one of the best TED Talks. It’s great. I can see yours would be great. You should do comic books teach resilience. That would be the best TED Talk. I think that would be an excellent TEDx especially to get out there and share the words because I think you gave such great examples because we do learn some amazing lessons from that. You’ve learned some amazing lessons from a lot of things. I was looking at your background. You’re a captain, you graduated West Point and you served with distinction and the 82nd Airborne Division. Your background is quite impressive. You were at Desert Storm, Desert Shield. What did you learn from that experience that’s helped you now with your work at Take the Limits Off?Leadership is key to making contributions beyond yourself. Click To Tweet
The military part was transitional and foundational. One of the things about going to West Point, after all the friendships and all the great education there. The two things that I took from there was first the West Point model, duty, honor and country. When you are poor, you never think about what that means. It was the first time I had to flesh out what does duty mean? What does my commitment to the country mean? What does honor mean to me and how do I define it as a part of my leadership? The second thing was the West Point honor code. It was pretty simple. A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. You do any of the above, you get bumped. You get sent home.
It was clear and concise. If you told a partial truth, that was a lie. If you used a fake ID, it was harsh, but the concept was the truth is black and white and it’s clear and concise. An officer, a leader is expected not to play games with the truth with the team that. They instilled in those two things. I kept with me throughout my whole career and it was that foundation. I took that to the 82nd Airborne and it worked in peacetime. It worked in combat and Desert Shield, Desert Storm and this whole concept that you don’t need to lead by the authority you are granted. The best way to lead your team is through credibility. It was C-method with me there.
You led some pretty serious roles after that, Pepsi, Rubbermaid and Dell. I’m looking at the list. How does that feel when you come from that background where you didn’t have that much to be in senior leadership positions with some of the biggest names, Staples, serious names out there?
Sometimes I had to pinch myself. Until October 2016, I had my grandmother to make sure that you never forget where you came from. As she always said, “I’ve known you your whole life and I’m going to make sure you never get too big for your britches.” I always had context though. It always seemed like a privilege and it always seemed like a dream come true and you will always want to know what was next. If leadership got me to West Point and leadership that me through combat and got me through ranger school, I started to conceptualize that leadership was limitless. If you led correctly, there was always want and a need for great leadership no matter what you do. Public life, private life, city government, federal, it doesn’t matter. Leadership is key to making contributions beyond yourself.
It’s going to be challenging because of the structure of how they lead. What was that transition like? You’re in the military world and then you go to the corporate world. I teach one of the universities. They teach at a military university and I always find their stories interesting because I have never served in the military and I’m always honored to talk to people who have. Thank you for your service and I thank them. It’s a challenge to go from that culture to corporate life.
It was less so than I thought because the first part is I always felt like that because I was an officer. It doesn’t mean that they put me in a position to make decisions, but it didn’t make me superior to you in any way. I always had a close relationship with my noncommissioned officers and sometimes to be to the detriment of getting counseled that there’s this distinction between officers and noncommissioned officers. I didn’t believe that because I believe that you lead people by who you are and they needed to know you in order to know you. They needed to trust you and they had to know you to trust you. I was lucky enough to go through ranger school. One of the first things they do in ranger school as you report is you have to take all rank off your collar. No one has a rank. They don’t know if you’re a captain, sergeant, private. You can’t lead by the rank that you’re given. You can only lead by building credibility, by building trust and by showing that you are capable of.
I think it’s important. A lot of your leadership strengths seem to have come from your grandmother. Is there anybody else influenced you as much as she did? Do you have great mentors in your life?
As a baseline, my grandmother was, but I had a couple of key people in my corporate career. I had a key person in my military career. I had a lieutenant colonel that accepted the fact that I led a little bit differently, that I didn’t buy into this hierarchy of officer and noncommissioned officer. He accepted the fact that if my team was the best performing team and we were doing everything that we needed to do and we were top of every rating, that it was the most important than the hierarchal structure. I was given some leeway to do that. That’s where it started it.
As I went into my first job at PepsiCo, I had a great boss, Kurt, who let me make some probable career ending mistakes that I made. I was doing crazy things. In my mind, when I had a team, but in my mind was my team was like my army soldiers. My concept was if you volunteered to put your life on the line for your country, it’s not my job to manage you out. It’s my job to hold you and make sure that you do and work with you until you can be the best that you can be, even if it’s a B or C player. That concept didn’t work so well in Corporate America. I started putting all my time and my C and D players and then my A-players would leave and I and I would have a team that was completely upside down. It’s a career-limiting move.
I’ve worked with some people who worked with Jack Welsh and he was famous for removing the bottom 10% of people. What do you think of that practice?
I think anything that programmatic does not work. If you have poor performers, it is incumbent upon you to make sure that you spend most of your time with your top performers because your time is your most precious resource. If 10% is causing you to spend more time managing them than putting time with your top performers, then you do that. It may be more than 10%. Some years it may be 20% or some years everyone is clicking, everyone is performing, it may be 5%. You need always to make sure that you have low performers are being moved out. You’re always bringing in new blood. I don’t have a preset percentage of what that number is.
I think if you always get rid of 10%, what if the bottom 10% was still good?
B players are hard to come by. Everyone’s not going to be A. You’ve got to have B players. If B players are in the 10% of this year, you’re going to get rid of a B player for a number.
I’m with you on that one. You mentioned that as a mistake, but what about failure? Have you ever failed? Any significant failures? Everybody I’ve interviewed tells me they have and anybody who’s met success usually has, which I find fascinating because you can get yourself back up. What did you experience?
That lack of management system or managing the people, it led to some multiple under performances by the team. Instead of managing me out, which Kurt had the absolute right to do, he said, “You have to have a mind change.” If your mind change is not about your time is a precious resource, if you can’t get away from your military background, then this will be the farthest that you go. You have to literally figure out how you’re going to take the best of what it is and attach it and then learn how to integrate yourself into the culture that you’re operating in now.
Do you think the military should be doing it differently? Do you think that’s the right setup for that?
I think they have started doing it differently. I would say that when you look at some of the training that they have now, that there has been a movement to be less hierarchical and not a lot. Because it’s still generals are generals, captains are captains and there’s still that rank. If you take a step back or you look at what’s called the special operators, the high-performance teams, the SEALS, the Rangers, Delta Force, Special Forces, they operate in an entirely different way. It’s almost like a team of leaders with one person having the beanbag that gets to make the decision.
Did you learn risk-taking then from being in the military? Is that nothing new for like the working world? Do you think you’ve taken risks? Do you take it a little less risky?Always have a vision, to look down the street and not back behind in a rearview mirror. Click To Tweet
I would say that I’d probably take out at the taking risk type of person. I don’t know if the military made me more risk resilient because there was always this concept that in order to move anything forward, you have to take risks, you want to take smart risks. Playing it safe always tended to lose whatever situation it was because the rest of the world, they were getting better. They were moving, they were evolving, they were becoming something different and going into protection mode always seem to lead to a bad outcome.
I would peg on the riskier than not to whereas I went up in the ranks, I would always make sure I would have some anti-me’s on the team that will be conservative, that would be able to throw the flag and say, “You need to understand the risks you’re getting into. This acquisition, this move into a new market, this move to a new customer segment, it comes with A.” Unfortunately for me, I am an eternal optimist. I do believe that tomorrow will be better than now. That’s the way I live, that there was always a vision. We will always be looking down the street and not back behind us in a rearview mirror. I learned to hire people that were good at helping mitigate my down the street view and they were also good at looking in a rearview mirror and then making sure that we account for what happened historically and we put that into what our plans were going forward.
You help a lot of people move forward now. You’ve been featured for your work in many places I was looking for. You’re featured in Black Enterprise, Savoy. You’ve had all of your military and civilian awards, but you’re named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America in 2012 and again in 2014. Those are some pretty good awards. Is this for your work with leaders as far as executive coaching? What did they recognize you for in general?
At the time, I was in corporate and it was the work that I was doing with the organizations. One of the things that I prided myself on is there’s a reason why inclusion works. Because you get to have a diversity of thought and you get to bring in great minds that think differently and then they all can help figure out complex problems and provide the best solutions. Part of my work that I did as I went through the ranks is I always prided myself on having the most diverse team in whatever organization. Because to me, that was the magic, is that you put your ego to the side, you surround yourself with smart people in the room and then you shut up and listen to what they have to say.
Do you find that they’re doing that with boards of directors? Because I noticed you serve on a board of directors for Vectrus and Team Red, White and Blue. You have board experience. Are you finding that they’re diverse?
They are not.
I’m saying boards in general.
Everywhere and you can look at the data. Whether it’s gender diversity and you take a look back with women being 50% or more of the working population and there is much less a percentage of that on the corporately or the paid public boards. It’s easy to take a step back and see that it’s not getting there yet, but it’s almost like the march of the generations. The greatest generation, some of those are getting off boards now. You go to the Baby Boomers. They’re less diverse than Gen X, which is less diverse than the Millennials. As each generation is coming into their own, they tend to be right. The demographic has to get better, but it is slower. It is much slower at the board level than it is anyplace else because most boards don’t have a mandatory retirement age and some boards a retirement age of 70, 75. The turnover is not as fast as it would be corporately, so you don’t see that that reflecting the society as it is now as quickly as other organizations and management teams.
It’s interesting because California had put together a law where they wanted to have a certain percentage of women by a certain time frame. I hadn’t seen that in other states as much. Do you think we’ll start seeing mandates like that?
It depends. I know that’s a mandate in Europe and I think it’s active in Europe. Chicago or Illinois tried to do a version of it and they were sued or countersuit and it got watered down to something from must have to you have to activity report out. There are probably already multiple countersuits to this thing in California. You never know how things are going to roll out. It has been my experience that when things are mandated, that we as human beings, we get our back up. We fight being told what to do rather than being sold on the right thing to do or being explained the benefits and believe that it’s the right thing to do.
That’s going to be a challenge. I know that there are a lot of groups that are working on that, but I think that there are many things that we’re trying to change. You deal with probably a lot of the things we’re trying to help leaders to change so that they can transform. I’m curious about what you think are the top things that you have to deal with. I’m a culture specialist. I deal with building curiosity, building perception and emotional intelligence and soft skills and those kinds of things. What do they struggle with the most and what do you help them with the most?
You hit on 3 of the big 4. Trust in relationships. Trust is huge now more so than at any time at how to build trust. There are all kinds of data on how high trust organizations outperform low trust organizations. There are huge amounts of data behind the trust factor. Trust is big. Emotional intelligence is huge. Under that umbrella of emotional intelligence, I put in diversity and inclusion, but more importantly diversity is sometimes a numbers game. Inclusion is what creates engagement. There are all kinds of data around what an engaged workforce can do versus a non-engaged work. It’s easy to find the business case if you’re looking at the right data. That emotional intelligence, you can’t be an inclusive leader and an engaged leader unless you have a high EQ.
When I wrote about that for my dissertation so many years ago, I kept thinking, “This is a cute little subject.” At the time, I had no idea the impact it was until I started to research it. I’m like, “This is so important.” Even now, people are still talking about it where they hadn’t.
I think as important and it may be getting to that thing now is EQ, your intellectual curiosity. Not your emotional intelligence, your CQ, your curiosity quotient. There are all kinds of evidence that when you don’t have good intellectual curiosity, there are all kinds of bad things that happen down the line. Every time that I’ve made a hiring mistake that I got enamored by all of the things on the resume and Harvard and the references were great and my red light was going off that this person, when I asked what have you read in the last six months, what have you touched yourself? That my curiosity warning lights were going off and I ignored them to my chagrin. That’s one of my learnings is that intellectual curiosity is much more important than I probably ever gave it credit for. It is a leading indicator of how people accept feedback, whether they can accept feedback, whether they can learn because a person without intellectual curiosity thinks they’re perfect. They don’t need to learn anything, so they’re good.
It’s status quo thinking. That doesn’t get you very innovative companies. That’s the problem.
I think the last thing and what I’m saying is good coaching skills. Part of being a coach, you don’t think that what you teach is good coaching skills. You teach the intellectual curiosity and the EQ and the softer skills. One of the core things that I’m focused on with a lot of leaders is good, straight processes and procedures that are coaching skills. People want to be coached, people want feedback that’s consistent, that is actionable and they want it pervasively so they can manage their careers or manage what they want to do next. Those coaching skills I think are the next big item because most times when we get to the senior level, we are who managed us. We coach people like we were coached. We don’t assess whether it was right or wrong. If it worked for our boss and our boss got promoted, then it must work as a philosophy, so I’m going to mimic it.
I think we’ve seen a lot of that not be very effective. I was at an event with Marshall Goldsmith who’s famous for his What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, his immense book. That’s the way that people thought maybe it did work at one time, but no longer does it work and we got to rethink things. You certainly help people rethink things. You’re the author of The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers, which is an interesting look at how we can help leaders be more successful. A lot of people here would like to know how they can either hear you speak or read your books or find out more about you. Is there a link or something you’d like to share?
You can find everything you want if you look up TakeTheLimitsOff.com. That’s my company name and my website. The concept has been from where I came from, everything was a new horizon. If I would’ve put any limit on myself at getting out of college as the first college graduate for my family or surviving in the military or having a good job in Corporate America. Usually the only limitations on you are the ones you put on yourself. That’s the umbrella concept that we named the company after. You can reach me there or you can look up The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers and it’s available on Amazon. It’s available at multiple buying sites like Barnes & Noble and you can get it on my website too. I like to tell people I have never worked harder and I’ve had some pretty intense corporate jobs and I’ve never been happier.You can't be an inclusive and engaged leader unless you have a high EQ. Click To Tweet
I felt like that with what I’m doing. That’s a good feeling. You could feel it though when I talk to you. You have that joy in your voice and you can tell when people love what they do and it was fun having you. Thank you so much, Mel. This was a lot of fun.
It was my honor and thanks for inviting me. I got to read about all the other people. I was like, “She’s got some good players on there.” There’s a lot. I didn’t read all of them, but I at least got about twenty.
I’m sure they were interesting because every day I learn something new and I learned from you. I appreciated having you on. Thank you.
It is my honor. Thank you for the invitation.
Being Strategic With Money With Timolin Langin
I am here with Timolin Langin, who is a money magnet dedicated to helping working people live the life of their dreams. She’s the Founder and President of New Fit World TV. I’m excited to have her here because she’s appeared on ABC, Fox, CBS, you name it. You’ve been out there on many amazing programs, Timolin. It’s nice to have you here.
It is nice to be here. Thank you so much, Diane, for having me.
I was looking forward to this. You have quite an interesting background. I wasn’t sure which way to go. You’re an author, you’re a speaker, teacher, thought leader and world traveler. I was looking at what you do. I think maybe it’s best to start with the background because I had read that you came from the Mississippi Delta. Can you start and give a little background of what led to where you are now?
I come from indeed humble beginnings. I was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. I played across the street from the cotton fields. I look at my family on my mother’s side who were sharecroppers and quilts. Even on my dad’s side, my grandmother lived in the brickyard across the street from the cotton field. I’ve been able to take those lessons that I learned from my grandparents and carve out a good life for myself as a working woman. I graduated from college. I’ve bought real estate here in Los Angeles, which is a challenging market to buy real estate. I’ve taken a mother’s wit, if you will, to increase my financial success and I have the heart to help other people, particularly working people do the same.
That’s quite a leap what you were able to accomplish. I hope you’re not in any real estate that’s having any of the problems with the fires. I know LA has been having a lot of things going on. Are you in a good part, I hope?
I am indeed. Thank you so much for asking. You’re absolutely right. I have bought in an area that so far we have not been affected by the fires or anything of that nature. Yes, location.
I read that you say to live life by design and not default. What do you mean by that?
I believe that we, as working people, can carve out the life of our dreams. I’ve come from humble beginnings and the things that I have achieved, it was not expected of a Southern girl who came from sharecroppers to be able to travel the world, to live in this wonderful city, graduate from college. My parents divorced when I was a teenager. I was raised by my mom for the most part in those teenage years. The world was against me. According to the statistics, I shouldn’t have achieved the things that I’ve achieved. I want people to know that you can beat the odds and you can live your life by design and not default. That means, “What is it that your life purpose is? What is it that you love to do?” I love to travel. I tell you people, I work so I can travel. I have had created many moments and experiences. I love women’s tennis, so I spent time at the Australian Open. I was at the US Open in New York City. I am doing the things that I love most and I have to be strategic with the money I have because I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Being strategic with the money, I’ve been able to carve out a nice life for myself, doing the things I love. Creating those moments, those experiences that will last a lifetime. We want to show working people how to do that everywhere.
My family loves tennis. My aunt played Wimbledon, believe it or not, a long time ago in the ‘30s. My uncle’s wife, my aunt Nina, Nina Braxton I think was her maiden name when she played. You have to look it up.
That’s on my bucket list. I’ve been to two majors and now I’ve got to get to Wimbledon and the French Open.
I was looking at some pictures that my cousin had posted of them playing it. I thought it was cool. We were looking at the old outfits they wore and it was pretty interesting to have that in the background. Everybody in my family played tennis except for me. I’m terrible.
It’s funny too because people expect me to be able to play well and I’m not good at all, but I have fun keeping the ball in motion. That’s about all I can do.
That’s better than I could do. It’s fun to watch people who are great at stuff. Tennis is challenging. It looks a lot easier than it is and it’s challenging. You deal with a lot of things that maybe are more challenging. When you’re talking to people, you said you’re a money magnet, so you deal with money obviously. You said money is a tool. What do you mean by money is a tool?
I compare it to like building a house or building a life. When you take a tool, a hammer and a nail, you are there because you’ve got something in mind that you want to create. I believe that we can take the resources that we already have. I started from a humble place when I was starting to try to build a life for myself. I knew at an early age that I want it to be independent of the job. I wanted to own property because I remember hearing those conversations when I was growing up. Even when I was in high school and college, I think in the back of my head, my plan was always to create this real estate portfolio. What I did is that having that purpose, having that vision drove me to make that happen.
When I was a young woman living in Los Angeles, instead of putting my money into certain things, a lot of times people they bought a lot of expensive purses and bags and different things like that, I decided to save for real estate. I spent years preparing myself for that and using money as a tool to make more money. That was my goal and objective. With planning and preparation, I was able to accomplish that. I believe that money is a tool to create the lifestyle you want to live. Also, to create a legacy that you can leave for generations. Sometimes I think when we work in people, we forget about that. One of the things that I talk about in the book is how to live like a millionaire on your budget is that we should enjoy our lives at some point down the line. Certainly, we’ve got responsibilities, the three Rs: Reality, Retirement and then there’s also Recreation. I think we have to put aside money for all three so that we can have this great life, the wonderful life, the good life, if you will. Money is the tool to create that. That’s all it is.
I’m glad you brought up your book. It’s called Mind Over Money: How to Live Like A Millionaire in Any Budget. As you were talking about this, a lot of people say it takes money to make money. Do you think that’s the case?
I think it takes the money you already have to make money. I know that when I started, I didn’t have much money, but what I did is I tell people my first job was at Taco Bell and I made $3.35 an hour. When I graduated from college, I made $8 an hour. It is a matter of mastering what you have and being strategic with what you already have. I was able to take my modest income, humble beginnings and start creating a strategic plan and living well within my means. I was never one to try to do more than what my money would allow me to do. I lived in a smaller place. I drove a smaller car. If I’m making $1,500 a month, then I’ve managed to try to live on $800 or $900 of that so that I could use that extra $600 to build and to create with, to use that as a tool to say, “I’m going to put this into a savings account because I know it’s going to make money to buy real estate. I’ll save $600 a month over a specified period of time.” You will be surprised at how that adds up. That’s what I mean about using money as a tool. It’s like this is what I am, this is what I have. Let me be efficient with it. Let me be strategic with it. I tell you, when you get into that mindset, you start to draw things to you. People call you, more opportunities for you to do what you do come to you because of that of being faithful to your vision and the money will follow.
You brought up some good points. I think a lot of people don’t live within their means and they’re trying to have this fake it until you make it look at me thing. Unfortunately, it does take a certain perception though by people that you have a certain amount of success for them to want to take you seriously in certain business settings. How do you know how much you have to spend to look at the part of the business you want to have?We, as working people, can carve out the life of our dreams. Click To Tweet
I believe you can look the part. It’s funny too because I will never forget. I used to go to this salon here in Los Angeles and these are celebrity hairstylist. I would go into the salon and I would look like the women on the television magazine covers and so on. They would always compliment my attire. Even though it looked great and it looked fabulous, they thought I paid thousands and perhaps hundreds of dollars for it and I paid tens. I agree wholeheartedly. You can look chic but not necessarily paying top dollar for things. It’s like you go chic for cheap, if you will. I do indeed. You certainly need to look the part and dress the part and that’s where your creativity comes in. In the book, I give 40-plus ways to be creative with the money you already have to stretch it and increase it. I always say you shop offline, so to speak, and there are certain places where you can go, especially here in my city and I would imagine in most cities where you can get some of the most beautiful items for less. Even if it requires a little research to find out where those stores are, where can I shop and get some of the most stylish things, the fashionable items for less in my neighborhood, in my community?
A lot of those are secondhand stores have almost brand new things sometimes.
Those stores, not only that, they have designer things sometimes. I have gone in there and you can see an Armani dress for $10 and it’s still chic. You do have to search and check and make sure the buttons are on and so forth. For the most part, I’ve had good experiences in places like that. Thrift stores are everywhere. You’re absolutely right, that is a great alternative.
Can you give me a couple of other creative ways that you would increase the value of your money? You said you had 40. Do you have a couple you want to list?
One of the things I think we do too is for example, look at your cable. These are things we use every day. We watch television, we watch Netflix and we watch all of these things. If you’ve got 200 channels, are you watching all 200 channels? If you are not, if you’re only watching 100, then call your cable company and say, “I want to cancel the other 100 and I’ll just watch the ones that I watch.” That’s a significant saving right there on a monthly basis because cable is expensive. My thing is that $1 saved is $1 earned. A penny saved is a penny earned. If you can save a few dollars on your cable bill, if you can save a few dollars on your shopping attire and another thing is I love coffee. I am a huge coffee connoisseur. I’m not going to say if this was a great pleasure for you, then you should have it. What I’ve discovered is that I can make my own coffee at home and save myself $100 a month because I had a coffee bill of $200, $250. I loved it that much. I was overdoing it. I cut back tremendously by making it at home. I was a decaf girl. Those are little things that you can do that and you’re not necessarily giving up the things you love. Because if you make your coffee at home, you still have your coffee but it does not cost you as much. That’s all.
It’s funny when you bring up coffee. My dad used to freak out when coffee cost like $0.10 or something when I was a kid. He couldn’t believe that. I think if he was alive now, his head would explode if he saw how much coffee cost.
Mine does too. I tell you, I agree with this. Ken said, “Why does coffee need to be $4 or $5?”
It’s the more they experience. You’re going and you’re socializing. I think that’s part of what they’re selling. That’s a hard thing for a lot of people to give up. You’ve got to find the things that you’ve got to realize that you’re willing to say, “This is crazy.” A lot of people don’t write down what they spend. It’s like the calories they eat, they don’t want to keep track. Because if you look at it, you’ve got to do something about it.
Another tip I always tell people to pay cash for things. Because it’s easy to swipe with a card and swipe with the credit card and it doesn’t impact you the same way, but when you start spending cash on the coffee items and all these other things, it wakes you up a little bit more. It’s shocking to the brain. We’re not quick to spend cash on items as we would with a card. That might be a good way. This holiday season, shop with cash and see if that doesn’t change how you spend.
It certainly would. I tend to use American Express because then you have to pay it off every month and you get points. Do you advise people to get points on things like that or is it better to go with cash?
It depends on where you are on a financial scale. If you are in a good place, financially, your debt is low and you’re not carrying much debt, absolutely. That would be the way to go with an American Express card because once a month you’re paying it in full. That’s the ideal way to manage credit actually. If you are not in a place right now, if you’re in a place where your credit card bills are taking you for a ride, so to speak, then I would highly recommend stopping using the card. Stop using it for a while, pay down some debt, pay down some bills and then look into effective ways of using credit. Because I do believe there’s a place for credit in money management.
I’m remembering I used to be a loan officer years ago and I dealt with a lot of people buying homes. Talking about credit made me think of what people want for home sometimes is not super realistic. I could remember back in the days where they did stated loans where people would, maybe they worked as a hostess and they made minimum wage. They wanted a $1 million house, but they would share it with a couple of people or whatever they’re trying to do in San Francisco. You know how crazy the market is out there. Do you need to give up on homeownership or do you say do whatever you can for homeownership? How much do you stay in debt for a home?
I still believe homeownership is the American dream. I’ve heard talks about that. There are two sides to the coin, but I do not believe in spending beyond your means either because it’s not going to do you much good to buy a home that you cannot afford to pay. I remember at a time when they were doing the stated income and I thought that was the worst thing possible. Stated income, no proof of income is not appropriate. I do not recommend that at all. I think the better result would be to get a hold of your finances and get ahold of what you can afford and then stick within your budget. Sometimes even when talking to loan officers, because they say you qualify for $500,000, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend that much money for a house. If you’re more comfortable in the $250,000 range, then that is what I would recommend. Going back to what we were saying earlier, live below your means.
A lot of people are big fans of ARMs, the Adjustable Rate Mortgages. For me, I want the shortest loan I could pay off the fastest and not get these balloon payments. I always wanted it predictable. I think that’s hard for a lot of people because they can’t have that home or their dreams, the first home thing. The good news is if you buy a home in California, any place else, you can get a bigger home later when you move.
That’s always been my story too. Start small and then inch your way up. I believe firmly that’s a good foundation. You start in a place where you can afford it. That is important. I think you’re absolutely right. We look around us and we see what our neighbors are doing or what our friends are doing, our coworkers and we get carried away with keeping up with the Joneses or the Kardashians. That can be financially devastating. It’s okay to live within your means. In fact, I’m watching these programs now, little houses are becoming popular again. That’s frankly what I did so that I could save the money. I stayed in a little house. I noticed now they’re building little homes and smaller homes and people are downsizing because they’ve got so much space and they weren’t able to use the space and it was costly. It is okay. I talk about this in the book too. Make these paradigm shifts, it is okay. Less is more
What size is a little house when you say people are moving into now?
It all depends on what you qualify for. For some people, it could be 1,200 square feet. For some people it could be 5,000 square feet. It all depends on your income. It all depends on how many people in your family. There are a lot of dynamics at work with that. The thing is not to let your eyes be bigger than your stomach, so to speak. That’s the key here.
I think a lot of people want what they see other people have and that sometimes you never know how strapped they are or how poor they are. For me, I never wanted it where you couldn’t travel or you couldn’t do anything because you spent all your money on your mortgage and you couldn’t afford to do anything but pay your mortgage. Do you think people don’t realize what they’re giving up sometimes?Money is a tool to create the lifestyle you want to live in and the legacy that you can leave for generations. Click To Tweet
I do. It’s funny that you say this because I am thinking about a couple and who make good money. Between the two of them, they’re probably pulling in $1 million or so a year. Here’s the thing, if you’re making $1 million a year and they’ve got a beautiful home, they’ve got beautiful cars, they’ve got a boat. If you are making $1 million and you’re living a lifestyle at $1.5 million, you still have a financial problem. You’re living beyond your means. That creates disharmony in the home. Because this couple, they fight quite a bit. They’re arguing a lot and it’s not healthy. You’re absolutely right. You don’t get to do the things you enjoy and the traveling and enjoying the holiday time with your family because everyone’s arguing and fussing about money. That’s not fun.
Since the holiday season is upon us, I highly recommend it and this may sound controversial, but do not get in debt trying to buy gifts. Don’t do that. Make gifts, get creative. I tell people it’s what’s around the table that’s more important than what is under the Christmas tree. If you have a love of family, the connection with friends, that is more beautiful than going into debt. We can get back to the old fashioned ways of making gifts, giving beautiful cards with encouraging words. It’s finding something that person like that doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money, but can still be special and meaningful to the person. I know me, I’m moved by words. A beautiful card with encouraging words, that’s $1 million in my eyesight.
I think you have some good advice and a lot of people could learn more about mind over money and how to live like a millionaire on any budget. Is there a website or something you’d like to share for people to be able to reach you and find out more?
It’s NewFitWorldTV.com or LiveLikeAMillionaireNow.com and we will be doing workshops and things like that in the future. Also, there’s a YouTube channel and that’s called Mind Over Money with Timolin.
Timolin, this has been such fun to get to know you and you had some great advice. I hope people check out your site. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for having me. It was fun. I had a wonderful time, Diane. Thank you.
I’d like to thank both Mel and Timolin for being my guests. We get so many great guests. I hope you check out some of the past interviews. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Take the Limits Off
- The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers
- Kate Adams – past episode
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
- Barnes & Noble – The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers
- New Fit World TV
- Mind Over Money: How to Live Like A Millionaire in Any Budget
- Mind Over Money with Timolin – YouTube channel
About Mel Parker
Mel Parker is an internationally recognized inspirational leader known for his ability to turnaround and transform businesses while generating optimum value for shareholders, customers and team members.
He is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Take The Limits Off, LLC, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm based out of Austin, TX. As an international speaker and author of The Parker Principles – 10 Leadership Force Multipliers, Mel has shared his leadership and success strategies with audiences from around the world.
About Timolin Langin
Timolin R. Langin is a Money Magnet, dedicated to helping working people live the life of their dreams. She is the Founder and President of New Fit World TV. She comes from the Mississippi Delta where sharecroppers, cooks (grandmothers) and cotton fields taught her the most valuable life lessons about money and money matters.
She has been interviewed on major TV networks and radio stations but remains a country girl at heart. She gives wealth building tips and information on her YouTube channel called Mind Over Money with Timolin and has penned a book by the same title, Mind Over Money How to Live Like a Millionaire on any Budget.
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