“For all of us, part of our foundation is our money story which influences our beliefs and the choices we make. Do you know yours and its impact on your life?” –Emily Scott
Emily doesn’t like archetypes. Trust me, I tried to go there. But it’s hard to categorize people into buckets when it comes to their money story. When it comes to our relationship with money, it is a complicated fabric going way way back. So rather than try and classify people, Emily’s approach is to know them deeply and by knowing them deeply, she can begin a process of awareness. Yes, awareness. As business owners, how we make decisions and why we make decisions around our resources is very much influenced by our relationship with money. It’s not good or bad. But it’s awareness that matters. When we are aware, we can work with that to influence change.
Emily Scott created Emily Scott AND to help clients open up about their emotional relationship with money and how that manifests in their lives. After a storied career on Wall Street and building an enduring legacy in philanthropy, Emily saw a purpose worth pursuing. Scott has the ability to bring financial advice to a more personal level of net worth vs self-worth, allowing her clients to uncover their own personal truths. Often, Emily will be brought in by financial advisors (Emily is upfront about sharing she does not have assets under management) as a guide or ally for individuals and couples.
We also dive deeper into Emily’s TED Talk on the Evolution of a Passionholic. Passionholics live at the intersection of their principles, passion, and knowledge. The relationship to the money story here is clear. When you can spend more time living your worth vs. proving your worth (a common money story scenario), the possibility opens to live in a state of curiosity. And therein lies the potential for a Passionholic to emerge. Emily Scott provides a wonderful understanding of the topic, you definitely won’t want to miss this one.
Who should I interview next? Please let me know by clicking here.
In this Freedom Speaker Series episode with Emily, you will learn:
- Your personal relationship with money and how you think about it
- Fundamentals of Revisit, Rethink, Reframe
- Net Worth vs Self Worth
We are fortunate to have Emily available to spend time with us on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. If there is a speaker you’d like us to interview, click here and let us know. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Show Notes and Links From Episode:
Emily Scott email
Russell Benaroya: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the stride to freedom podcast. My name is Russell Benaroya, and I’m the co-founder of Stride Services, a virtual back office, bookkeeping, and accounting firm serving hundreds of clients around the United States.
This podcast is designed to help small business owners focus on growth and innovation. In other words, focus on those things that inspired you to start your business in the first place. We call it your genius zone. We do our job on this podcast when business owners feel like they have the trust and confidence to build the right team of partners around them that will help them grow.
Thanks for joining. Let’s go.
Hi, everyone. This is Russell Benaroya, your host of Stride 2 Freedom. Welcome to another episode. Today, we’re going to be a little less tactical, and maybe a little more strategic. Today, we’re going to shed a layer of armor that we as business people wear to protect ourselves, that we wear to protect ourselves from our self-doubt, from our insecurities, and from our vulnerabilities.
Today, we’re going to look under the hood at how our relationship with money influences how we make decisions about our business. And we’re lucky because today, we’re joined by Emily Scott, who’s going to take us there. Hi, Emily?
Emily Scott: Hi, how are you, Russell?
Russell Benaroya: Great. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Emily Scott: Thank you so much for having me here.
Russell Benaroya: Emily runs an organization called EmilyScottAND. And what, you may ask? Well, I’m going to let her explain that. But what you need to know is that Emily comes to the human side of financial management with a whole lot of technical experience on Wall Street and in philanthropy.
Her TEDx talk on the Evolution of a Passionaholic, which we’re going to talk about, Emily, has garnered tens of thousands of views. She has advised many leaders on how to manage their money, and specifically their relationship to it. It’s amazing how this thing that is completely fabricated, a number on a piece of paper, which is totally made up that we all obviously have to buy into for our system to work, but it’s amazing how it has such a dramatic impact on our lives. So let’s jump in. You ready, Emily?
Emily Scott: I am ready.
Russell Benaroya: Okay. Let me ask you a couple of pretty important questions before we start. The first is, what do you like so much about Sudoku? I know you like Sudoku, why?
Emily Scott: So I have to say put it in the same category as the New York Times crossword puzzle, brain app, Elevate, this is my burning desire to keep my brain going and to not lose my memory. So I will do everything and anything.
And there’s just that moment of solitude where you’re just figuring something out, and there’s immediate gratification. When you think about them; you fill in the square, it’s done. It is not an existential discussion, dialogue, philosophical, ethical movement down a journey. This is algebra, right?
Russell Benaroya: Yes, there’s an answer. That’s so good. So I’m looking at the headlines this morning and over the last few days and we seem to be captivated or maybe I’m captivated by the news of the royal family and the interview with Megan and Harry. What is it that so captivates us, do you think, about the news of the royal family here in the United States? What do we like so much?
Emily Scott: That’s so funny. I’m laughing because I just did a crossword puzzle and they said “Nickname for the Atlantic but not the Pacific”. And it’s like, across the pond. So it’s so funny that you bring this up. I honestly don’t know.
Why are we interested in the Kardashians? What is it? Or do we want it? Is it what’s under the hood or what is it really like? Or would my life be better? What do they actually think and feel? Honestly, Russell, I have to tell you. I don’t really know.
I will say, what is fascinating to me is I was one of the very early subscribers to People Magazine. I don’t know if that was 1,000 years ago. All I can tell you is that when I did the typical Wall Street thing of the beach house and the ski house, and everybody else would walk in with the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Magazine, they grabbed my People Magazine first. So, let me just say.
For 25 years, I was a subscriber, which meant it moved with me wherever I went. And I gave it up. I gave up smoking. I gave up People Magazine subscription, and it’s been fantastic. I’m just not that interested anymore in something like that. So I don’t really know.
I was not expecting that question.
Russell Benaroya: No. Obviously, I didn’t plan that in advance. But it is amazing how consumed we get by information that is totally irrelevant, but we lose ourselves in it. It’s like this escape fascination. Anyway, interesting.
Emily Scott: And it’s interesting that you asked me this because somebody asked me yesterday, “What’s this influencer thing?” And it is so fascinating to me what we are influenced by. And is it a wonderful escape? Is it a wonderful opportunity to get outside of yourself? And why are we influenced by what Kim Kardashian is wearing versus what’s happening on the border?
I remember years ago, the Gates Foundation, from what I understand and from what I’ve read; they gave ABC News a big grant to do world news, to spend more time on the news. Then, I guess, a year later, ABC News came back to the Gates Foundation and said, “We can’t take your money anymore. We’re losing viewers. People are not interested in international news.” Why is that? If it was for the royal family, they would have more viewers than ever.
Russell Benaroya: Well, thanks for considering that. Okay, let’s dive in. Tell me a little bit about you, Emily Scott, and who you serve, and why what you do is important.
Emily Scott: A few things: one is I do not have assets under management. I am incredibly fortunate to not have to worry about giving solid financial advice to anybody. And I applaud those who do it and those who do it well. Having been in the world of financial markets, I know that that is not my strong suit in any way, shape, or form.
What I do know is that with all of my intellectual and technical knowledge and experience, education, professional career, the whole bit, it didn’t make one iota difference on how I felt about money. And I was married to a wealthy man, at one point. We’re no longer married. And even with that, I still was afraid of spending money. I have what is called “bag lady syndrome”, which is this syndrome of being an old woman and not being able to take care of yourself and being homeless.
I can tell you that story of how that made me fall far later. And I thought, “What is going on here?” I noticed that it kept getting in my way. And I noticed that we would be sitting with financial advisors every quarter, and they would give us this data. And I would sit there and argue with why their data was wrong. Now, think about this, we’re paying a huge sum of money to financial advisors whom we respect, who we handed our money to because we trust them. It’s not like, “I don’t trust you. So, here, take all my money.” And yet, I’m arguing with their recommendations.
And they do everything they’re supposed to do. 24/7, they do everything they’re supposed to do. So, as a lifelong learner and as somebody who is innately curious about the human mind, and how our feelings and emotions exhibit themselves in our day-to-day life, I did a real deep dive on this topic. And this is 15, 20 years ago, and recognize that there’s this big disconnect between how I feel and how I think.
So going, “All right. Can we talk about the root cause?” So what’s the root cause here? And I go way back and here’s what came out. I was six years old; my parents got divorced when I was six. My father escaped the Nazis and came here with nothing and built the business. My mother was a depression-era baby. And so, she grew up with nothing, but she spent a lot of money. Shopping was her addiction to make up for that loss; that scarcity inside of her,.
I have one memory, Russel, of them together. And that is my father yelling at my mother for spending too much money. And then the next memory I have is my mother sitting at the kitchen table, getting quite angry and quite upset about trying to pay bills. So like everybody else or so many other people, we were all taught not to talk about money.
So, if you don’t know how to talk about it, you certainly don’t know how to talk about your feelings or that you’re supposed to have feelings. So they got completely embedded, and they manifested somewhere in my six-year-old head, “You better have money and you better make sure you don’t spend it because you’re going to need it in case you get abandoned and betrayed, which by the way, if you spend it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. You’re going to get abandoned and betrayed.”
So, I never thought about it and then in the 70s, I’m reading the New York Times and I read this article about bag lady syndrome and said, “Oh, so I’m not crazy. Great.”
Here’s what happened, which is so nutty about this. In spite of my spectacularly wonderful education, and I got jobs, I will tell you in full, rigorous honesty, I took one job after another that I didn’t want to take, that I didn’t enjoy waking up to go to every morning, but it paid my bills. And it gave me extra money to enjoy my friends. And it gave me extra money to be generous with my friends and fill them perfectly. I didn’t want to be generous with myself because no, you don’t do that. Then you get yelled at or you get abandoned.
I had no idea of the correlation of any of this. And then fast forward to being 38 years old and getting married to this man and going, “Okay. Well, now I don’t have to be careful.” “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you definitely have to be careful and you have to prove to him that you are careful.” That’s what I learned.
So, the AND; let’s talk about the AND. Jim Collins’ Genius of the AND versus Tyranny of the OR. I love that as you well know at this point. I love these expressions. And when I read that, I thought, “Well, why is it just in that format? Why is everything in life about the AND versus the OR?
So I did a little experiment, and for two weeks, I didn’t use the words BUT or OR. I only used AND, and it was such a revelation. It was like my brain exploded. So, that’s the thing. With money, I’m not suggesting that you don’t have financial advisors. If anything, I’m like, “Yes, you need to have that experience.” That’s the technical side. There’s a personal side of money, and we need to explore it, and we need to have it start aligning — your head and your heart; your feelings and your intellect. And that’s what’s going to move you forward, which by the way, is not a new concept.
Jacob Needleman wrote about this 20 plus years ago, around the emotional side of money. So this is not brand new information and you heard it here first. Five years from now, there’s going to be a gazillion people doing what I do.
Russell Benaroya: So you serve clients who may have a financial advisor, but you are a supportive guide for them?
Emily Scott: And I would say to the financial advisor because I’m understanding their position. I know full well that a financial advisor can do as well for you as you let him or her in and let them know. As an example, we talked about how I would argue with my financial advisor on the data. And this is like in any argument. You’re learning your language; you’re learning what floats your boat.
What I said to her was, “I’ve made this discovery that I have this deep-seated fear of running out of money and being old and homeless and not being able to take care of myself.” So we need to have a language around this data that speaks to her as well as speaks to the brainy Emily. I used to say, “I want to move my bag lady from being chairman of my committee to just a board member.” Because she does play a role. There is a checkpoint of how much you are allowing yourself to be flexible.
Once we had that conversation, Russel, game-changer. We figured out what was going to make me feel comfortable. For me, it was I want one year of cash flow as a reserve, which thankfully, I had done pre-COVID, or I would have been under my bed in a fetal position because COVID was like, “Okay, the world is coming to an end, proof positive.”
So, we had a different conversation and that’s what I try to get forth with clients and financial advisors; that letting them in is a good thing. But first, you have to understand what you’re telling them, and understanding how it’s going to impact you when you hear them. And it’s sort of easy when I say to a financial advisor, “You have a couple, and the woman will not come to your meetings.” He says, “I know. I try all the time to have this woman come?” Well, there’s something going on there. You have somebody who has a ton of money, and she is terrified to move. You have a gentleman who wants to retire but doesn’t think he has enough money.
There are these trigger moments in our lives; these moments of transition when you’re going from normal to new normal. And before you get to the new normal, that road generally gives you an opportunity to think. And sometimes, it doesn’t need to be that journey. One of my best clients came from a financial advisory business, he said, “There are couples fighting all the time, and they don’t need to be.”
Russell Benaroya: I have so many questions for you. What are some of the archetypes that you see in your practice of where people fall quite generically, I imagine when it comes to their relationship with money? You gave one archetype example, which is the bag lady syndrome. What are some others that you’ve come across?
Emily Scott: Yeah. So, I will answer your question and I also want to say, this is my least favorite piece of what I do. There are people out there that will be very happy to put you in a category. And that’s fine. It’s just not how I think. I really believe in why this work is so important to me as a human being, and why I feel like I’m doing this from a point of service. And people need to matter, people want to be seen, and people want to be heard. And creating that safe and sacred space, especially around a topic that you’ve been trying not to talk about is really important to me.
So, to have somebody come in, and I say, “Oh, you’re a blah, blah.” I think that’s an awful thing. I don’t know if you remember, David Steinberg did a whole thing around the therapists’ thing and somebody came in and he’s like, “Sit anywhere.” The person finally sat down. He said, “Passive-aggressive.” He’s like, “I don’t want somebody to go in and go, “She’s going to label me.”‘
Having said that, in order to answer your question, I think there is a couple that has not examined their money story. And that’s what we’re talking about: what is your money story and how is it impacting your financial decisions, your communications, and your relationships. So, they don’t know their own money story, and suddenly they’re fighting. One person wants to spend money; the other person wants to not spend money. One person wants a bigger house; the other person is afraid of a mortgage.
So, there’s that couple. There’s the person in transition: death, divorce. When there’s a transition of loss, I will say, when your emotions are fraught, and you’re grieving because getting a divorce, definitely, you are grieving the emotional death. So you’re in a grieving mode and you’re like, “I do not have terra firma. What do I do now?” There is the young couple that just got money and said, “Oh, my god. What do I do with this?” And there are humans, individuals, and couples who get inherited money and say, “I didn’t earn this. This isn’t good money. I didn’t earn this.”
And then I would say “I’m about to retire”. And then I would say the last group is “I’m thinking about my estate plan and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I really feel about my legacy. I don’t know how I feel about my money, and opening up that conversation. And so much of this, in all these examples, on the technical side, the question is, “Well, how much in dollars are we talking about?” That happens hours later.
This is a conversation of what is your past and how is it showing up in your present? And how does that not equate with your vision of the future? How is it in alignment with your values and your principles? How is it not aligned? What are the trigger points? What’s really happening?
One of the couples that I was working with, she didn’t want to spend money. And he was like, “Well, we can just spend the money.” And I could just tell by her whole body language that there was something else going on. And it’s getting away from those labels, which I think is why I hesitate in answering your question, saying, Okay, so what’s really going on here? What is important? What’s happening inside of you? And we don’t think about what is happening inside of you when it comes to money.
Russell Benaroya: The topic of the money; the story that’s going through my head is that, oh, this is a privilege. And it’s a privilege to be able to work on this problem. At the same time, it also feels like it’s essential. It’s essential in being prepared for the milestones that you just articulated. So as you were talking about archetypes, you actually were referencing some milestones, like, “I just came into money,” or, “I inherited money,” or “I got divorced.” Those are moments in time.
But the money story is about paving a path for how you’re going to live your life. So that upon moments of which we don’t even have enough hours in the day to account for all the circumstances for which there’s a money moment because they’re all these micro money moments. But it’s essential. It’s not a privilege. Respond to that. That’s what is going through my mind.
Emily Scott: I love that. And I’m laughing that I didn’t even answer your question in the way that you wanted me to answer it. That’s my own version of it. I didn’t do that there’s the spender, there’s the saver, there’s the thrifty, and there’s the generous. I didn’t even go there. So, you’re right, I went into moments. I went to moments that are triggers. Thank you for pointing that out. I’m sure your audience was going like, “Is she going to answer the question?”
No, I’m not going to answer that question, honestly. I think our unwillingness to understand the emotional and spiritual piece of money is that we haven’t been trained to do that. And what’s so interesting, you and I both live on the west coast. We, for breakfast, eat being mindful and thoughtful. And think about all the things that we’re being mindful about and then when it comes to our money, we just zip it.
It is a privilege. As I say, I am in this because if you have money, I think that you should have peace of mind and clarity. And if you don’t have money to pay your bills, I would be as anxious. So I get that.
The question to me is if you have money and you still aren’t comfortable, and there’s still something going on with you, you do have the opportunity to go deeper and figure it out. And the peace of mind and clarity, I believe, is when your money starts representing who you are as a human being. Then you’re like, “Now, this is easy. Now I get to use my privilege in ways that make sense to me.”
And that’s the peace that I would love for people to get to. That’s when you start connecting emotionally and spiritually as Jacob Needleman would say.
Russell Benaroya: Which, again, has nothing to do with the absolute amount of dollars we’re talking about. I don’t want to frame this as; you can attack this topic when you’ve achieved a certain amount. It’s at any level. From the young professional to the aspiring entrepreneur, to that failed startup that you just had that leaves you feeling like you’re licking your wounds.
Emily Scott: Yeah, I think so. And I just had this conversation this weekend with my partner. We were talking about how we are going to commingle our money. What does that look like? What I said was, “Take money off the table for a second and just ideate your future. What does that look like?” Take all of that off, and what does that look like?
And then start putting some of the reality tools back in. And what is money? It’s a tool. So let’s put that back in. What does that look like? What are the elements of it that are really important? Why are they important? Why are they important to you?
So what you hear from a lot of people with children, “It’s really important to me that I give my children safety and security, but also the freedom to make their own mistakes.” Okay. Why is that important to you and how does that look? And then you can start tweaking it in ways that are different because they’re centered on a value and a principle.
So, it’s a reframe, Russel, of the, “So, do I leave my children $2 million each?” Like, you pick the number out of the sky. My ex-husband and I used to fight around our investment philosophies. And it almost got to be a joke because my bag lady was like, “You need to put every…” I used to say asset allocation is putting money under different beds. And this is coming from somebody who worked on Wall Street.
What I said at some point finally was, “Okay. You worked really hard for this money. What does that look like to you? And if something happened completely out of the blue, what would you want to be left with and why?” It’s a different conversation than what are you going to do if the world goes to hell in a handbasket. And I think that this is particularly partners, personally or professionally, where that can start a conflict because what you’re talking about is what are the consequences of behaviors and the actions; not what are the thoughts and the feelings behind all of this.
So the question is if you’re spending too much money, why? The question is, “Talk to me about spending. What happens to you when you spend? What kind of things do you take into consideration? Do you think about other pieces?” Come to the conversation with curiosity and with intentionality. And I would say, also make very clear why you are having this conversation.
Russell, you and your business partners. It’s really important to me that we are aligned in how we’re going to move our company forth, how we’re going to pay our people, how we’re going to invest in our company. I think you’re a brilliant mind. I think you and I have grown up in different ways. So, let’s have a conversation to understand how we actually think about money in the grand scheme of things so when we can make decisions, we have a shared language. We have a shared understanding of how we both come to the table.
So I’m not saying to you, “Well, you always want to….” And you’re not saying to me, “Well, I know you’re going to say no to this, but…” It’s not that. It’s, “I understand where you’re coming from so I’m going to have this conversation around that knowing that you’re also smart, and you also want this business to succeed.” Does that make sense?
Russell Benaroya: Complete sense and it’s a great segue to a question that’s on my mind and probably for a lot of people listening, who are business owners and entrepreneurs. Talking about how my money story shows up in how I lead and in the investment decisions that I make.
I have a belief that in many businesses, business owners fail to move to that next level of growth, and I’ll assert that growth is not a linear function, it is a step function. And taking that next step in growth often means making investments for which the outcome is less than certain, but it is also an investment that is required in order to get to that next step in business, and maybe, ultimately, to accomplish what many entrepreneurs aspire to do, which is work on their business and not in their business.
But they can never get out of the cycle of working in it because of some of their fear around spending their resources. So I’m curious if you could share some perspective or observations around that.
Emily Scott: What I talk about a lot of the three buckets and in15 commitments, they talk about that. I know what I know, I know, although I say I have some idea of what I don’t know, and then I don’t know what I don’t know. And this is applicable to this. What don’t I know about my money story that is really impacting how I make decisions? Is there something internally that needs to be readjusted?
We talked earlier about revisit, rethink, and reframe. It’s not to change your story, but when money changes, life changes. And when life changes, money changes. So the question is how are you carrying forth old information? And is it working for you or not working for you? You have executive coaches, you have a CFO in your business, as an entrepreneur, you surround yourself with talent. Is that correct?
Russell Benaroya: Yes.
Emily Scott: How much do you spend time talking with said talent? around? Salesforce now uses anagrams when they create teams, which I think is fantastic. Where are the areas that I am going to get blindsided and I don’t know?
I find it interesting that one of my best friends who I do all this humanitarian work with is a retired Episcopalian priest. And when we talked about money stories, he says, “In premarital counseling, we never talked about money.” And I’m like, “Are your couples all going to live off the grid? It’s going to be in their day-to-day life. Come to the conversation with: how do I think about money?
And so I would say, as an entrepreneur, the question is, one, why are you in this business? Is it strictly to make money? Is it strictly to have your vision become reality? And constantly ask this why. What is important to you? You talk about, at some point, wanting to get out of the business. What are the steps that have to happen? Are you spending money in a way that makes sense for that to happen? Or are you spending money because you don’t understand your own blinders? And what does that look like? What are the parameters?
Then do you have people around you who can say, “Okay, but take a look at it from this perspective, in a different way.” And I will say that, particularly, when there are partnerships, that back-and-forth conversation and really getting in there is a fascinating conversation.
Russell Benaroya: Do you ever work with business partners together? Or do you typically work with them individually or maybe just one?
Emily Scott: All of the above. Again, think about members of committees. It is wonderful to have a partner who is more risk-aware, and the other one who is pie in the sky. That combination is so great, that you have somebody who goes from A to Z in a nanosecond, and then you have the other person who goes from B to Y. These aren’t barriers. They’re speed bumps along the way. That B to Y person is like, “I want us to figure out how do we cross over these speed bumps before they’re in front of us?”
And maybe it appeals to me because I come to a place of what’s the worst-case scenario? And if I can figure that out, then everything else is so much easier. So maybe that’s why it appeals to me. Why would you want to be in a team where everybody thinks the exact same? How much information are you going to get there?
So, go back to the entrepreneur, if you have a team around you, are you asking people how they think about money and how they think about spending and savings. What keeps them up when they have a big decision to make financially in their own lives? How do they do it? It’s another opportunity to get great wisdom that’s already sitting in front of you from people you already trust and respect. It’s, what don’t I know?
Russell Benaroya: When you work with clients, do you typically do so over an understood period of time? Like, we will generally work together in this format for X weeks? Or does it really just depend? Tell me a little bit about how you guide your work with clients and how you manage their hopes and expectations.
Emily Scott: I am smiling because I have the worst business model known to mankind. What you’re saying is exactly what I should be doing.
Russell Benaroya: We’ll do that on another podcast; structuring your business model.
Emily Scott: I’m just laughing because this is not a linear process. Again I go back to my aversion to archetypes. I want this to be personal. I want this to be this is your call, this is your life. We’re going to figure that out.
Having said that, the last thing you need is one more person in your life as an annuity. You know me. I don’t want to do that. This can be fixed or understood; not fixed. This can be understood quickly. And it is my nature to want to help people understand and move on with their lives. I would love for them to come back and say, “Here’s what works, here’s what doesn’t. Here’s what popped up.”
But by and large, Russell, there’s no reason to have this be a long-drawn-out process. What I say to people all the time is what’s your time frame? When works best for us to be together? Is it morning, day, night, weekends? You tell me and we’ll work around that schedule, and how fast you want to accomplish this.
Russell Benaroya: Great segue into your TED talk, The Evolution of a Passionholic, because I can tell that your deep desire to serve is front and center. Tell me a little bit about that Ted Talk; how it came to be why you thought it was an important message to share, and the effects of having shared it.
Emily Scott: It was an amazing experience. I never enjoyed waking up and going to work ever. Until I was given the gift of running a family foundation and being philanthropic and doing and learning, I suddenly had more money to give away than I ever thought possible. And I better be really good at this. So learning a lot of philanthropy.
What I realized was I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning, and I didn’t really want to go to sleep. I really was so engaged. It was like, “This is like the most amazing thing known to mankind. I do not want to do anything other than this.”
And I watched my ex-husband work really hard and he was really great at it. And for whatever reason, I don’t know why, I never took it personally. I was like, “This man is really engaged in what he’s doing. He’s got a lot of energy around it.” I loved our conversations about his work. I felt very engaged and felt partnered. I was like, “Go forth and be married.” And then I started doing this philanthropy, and I thought, “Okay, I get it.” And he’s not a workaholic, which is what everybody called him, he’s so passionate, he’s a passionholic. And that’s how that came out.
You are so fully engaged that there’s nothing else you would rather do at the moment. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family, it doesn’t mean you don’t love doing other things. It means at the moment in time, your energy is at an all-time high. I know from everything that I have talked with you about and read about you and listen to you, I got the sense that that’s how you feel about your family. And that’s how you feel about being an ultra-marathon, long-distance guru. And I get that.
I stopped using the word passion because, one, I think it’s now being overused. It’s not passion, it’s passions. I would say now the evolution of it, energyholic, perhaps. And that’s what happened to me. The other thing that came out of that, as somebody who was very fearful, I’ve had physical assaults and sexual assaults. I had spent time being afraid of my own shadow.
This energy and evolution, what it really came to is that it took me out of my fear zone, and to do things that are more meaningful to me like going all over the world and doing these humanitarian trips and going to refugee camps and being with people on a purely human level. Going to the Congo, which is considered the rape capital of the world, and being there and working with the women and the amazing people who work with these women. These women are overwhelmingly resilient in ways that defy imagination. And what I learned from them, not what they learned from me. They didn’t learn anything for me other than the fact that there’s a white woman in America who cares about them.
So, having that evolution in my life dramatically set me on a different course. It made me appreciate my natural abilities of curiosity and wanting to learn.
Russell Benaroya: I really like that visual of the fear zone and just being able to acknowledge it and be okay with it. Like, I’m in the fear zone and it’s okay. I can see it. I can talk about it. I can label it. Feels profound.
Emily Scott: Yeah. In fact, I had a great therapist in the 80s because the things that happened to me happened in places that are “completely safe” like an elevator in an office building on a Thursday morning. That taught me the differential between impossible and improbable, and how much that shaped my life. Again, revisiting and rethinking and reframing.
Those experiences that happened in your life can be reframed in a way of How did you grow from it? So, I was really terrified to walk around New York City in the 80s. And it was not a great place to be a woman at the time anyway. I would walk around and I looked like a crazy person.
I went to a therapist, and we talked about it. After X amount of time, she said, “Okay. Here’s the deal. Your ingrained instinct of being afraid is so deep. We can try to work on it, and we can try to fix it, but at the end of the day, I don’t think we’re going to be successful. So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to create an immediate second instinct. So, you’re feeling fearful, and before you run, I want you to say, “Is it a lion or kitten.”
Again, going back to the 15 Commitments, they talked about this from a standpoint of in the shift; taking those breaths. And that’s really what this is. Creating that second instinct is really taking a breath. If she had said to me, “I want you to take a breath,” I’d be like, “I’m not going to take a breath. I’m going to take a breath and that lion is going to attack me. Are you kidding? I need to save my breath to run faster than I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Having that visualization of being able to go, “Okay, wait, what’s up?” And I used that more often than I can possibly say. And within months, it was second nature.
Russell Benaroya: Wow, thanks for sharing that. What is something that people don’t ask you that you wish they did or that you enjoy expressing or talking about?
Emily Scott: This question has haunted me. My personal philanthropies now are around racial injustice, truth, reconciliation. And one of the many people who I respect is Bryan Stevenson. He talks about a few things: being comfortable with being uncomfortable, getting proximate to the situation, and then the final one is what are you prepared to give up to make the world a better place? And that one has completely stopped me because the reality is that that has come head to head with my bag lady.
So, the question I would have you ask me is, even with all of the information that you have, and all of your curiosity and wonderment and learning, what still stops you in your tracks? And I am very much focused on answering it. If I’m not prepared to do it, who else will?
Russell Benaroya: Would you like to open the door a little bit on that? A little opening of the door on answering that which you would like me to ask if I were to ask you that direct question.
Emily Scott: Well, I would turn it around and ask you, what do you do when you are really stuck for an answer? One of the things that I do, personally, is I ask people who I think have come closer to that answer. I read a lot of books. I stay open to learning and I will say serendipity has played such a huge role in my life.
There is a little piece of my brain that’s like, “This answer will come; just stay open for it.” I would turn to you and say I still haven’t answered it. What do you do when you’re completely stuck on something that you know is really important to answer?
Russell Benaroya: My wife has shared with me over the last year; she’s been contemplating some decisions she wants to make. She says, “I know that if I am open, the universe will do its work. If I don’t force it, but I put the bid out there that I’m contemplating this or I’m interested in learning about it, without fail, something arrives. This gift arrives, and it’s going to happen.”
And then there’s the Russell Benaroya type A, like, “Yes, but where is the plan? You haven’t documented the plan. We need a plan.” But I’m just going to go on record here and acknowledge her for being a little bit patient and letting the universe do its work because it does bring clarity at the right time.
Emily Scott: So you’ve been married how long?
Russell Benaroya: Oh, you’re turning the tables on me here. This is great. Almost 20 years.
Emily Scott: Have you seen her methodology be successful?
Russell Benaroya: Yes, in the moments that matter the most. There are a ton of micro-moments where it’s more tactical. And I’m a planner so I like to plan. But upon reflection, I think in the moments that matter, if you look back, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, remember when that conversation at that moment changed the trajectory of my life?” I think the universe has been gracious in that regard. Yeah.
Emily Scott: Okay. So when you think about that, how does that impact your planning and your type A behavior?
Russell Benaroya: I think for us, it’s our shared agreement around how we communicate with each other. That’s really what it’s driven. It’s driven a level of partnership around communication that has been important in allowing each of us to have the space to speak without judgment around how we’re thinking about something, and losing the need to be right. By the way, I appreciate how you’re giving a bit of a lens into how you engage. This is very helpful.
Emily Scott: It’s coming to the conversation curious. And it’s interesting because, again, you’re the one who turned me on to 15 Commitments. I’m on the third commitment and I’m already like, “Did I memorize enough of this book?” You’ve also shared that you’ve given it to everybody in your work?
So, I’m curious, given that, your ability to step away from “Let’s make a plan” and have the conversation to, at some point, help create a better plan.
Russell Benaroya: Just for our listeners, what Emily’s referencing is a book called The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, written by Jim DetHmer and Diana Chapman that has had a profound influence on my life. Everybody in our organization reads it and we’ve built a shared understanding around how to use those commitments to filter our behavior. Yeah, without a doubt. Again, this probably gets back a little bit to the money story: check yourself first. Where are you? When you come into the conversation; where are you based on your past experiences and how you’re feeling in this moment.
And being able to say, “Hey, everybody, I just want you to know this is what I’m feeling right now. This is my truth. I’m making up a story inside, but I’m in control of myself.” Being open about that has been particularly valuable. By the way, I can totally see another podcast on this.
Emily Scott: Yes, definitely. Again, the feelings conversation in a business setting; “I’m feeling like we need a new advertising campaign.” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about how are you really feeling about this thought, this idea, this product?
I know somebody who used to lead; he’d walk in the room and say, “Okay, I had a great idea. Go do it.” And I said, “You have a lot of really smart people that you’ve hired and are paying a lot of money to. Where is their engagement on this?”
He morphed into, “I have this great idea. How does everybody feel about it?” And I said, “Okay, that’s good, but you’re not giving them their day in court.” What about, “I have an idea. I want to throw it on the table and I want us all to have a conversation about what this feels like, what you’re thinking, and where could we go.” “And don’t use the word OR; only AND.” He’s like, “This is a really interesting conversation.” And to come full circle, all I’m simply suggesting is you have the same conversation, and just money is the topic.
Russell Benaroya: It’s so wonderful, Emily. Thank you so much for joining us today. As promised, this was much less of a tactical conversation. In fact, as you said, how we used our relationship with money as a thread to uncover so much more than just money because it’s not about money. It’s never about the money.
It certainly plays a profound impact on how we show up with our family, how we show up in the community, how we show up in our business, how we show up to our partners, how we show up to our clients. And for that, I’m grateful that you gave us a lens into this area of genius that we can learn. This is not out of reach.
Emily Scott: Yes. How do you pay your employees? What’s the compensation look like and why? It’s not just about what the competition is paying. The whole conversation of your net worth versus your self-worth. It is fascinating.
Russell Benaroya: More to come; I want to have you on again. This was super fun. Thank you, everybody, for listening to us today. I am confident you will learn a lot and have learned a lot from this episode, and look forward to future episodes of Stride 2 Freedom.
Emily, thank you so much.
Emily Scott: Thank you.
Russell Benaroya: Bye-bye