Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Sharon Lechter: Legendary Leader Interview

Cliff Jones: Hello everybody. Cliff Jones cofounder and managing partner at Harvey Mackay Academy and I am thrilled to have with us today. Sharon Lechter. Sharon is an American accountant, author, business woman, investor, motivational speaker, financial literacy activists and philanthropists. Sharon is the coauthor of Rich Dad, Door Dad and founder of Pay Your Family First, uh, which is a financial education organization.

Sharon Lechter: Pay Your Family First. Yes.

Cliff Jones: Got It. Well, Sharon, thanks for being with us today. If you’re new to the street smarts podcast, you’re just seeing for this for the first time, welcome. What we’re going to talk about, Sharon, is what, what Harvey Mackay would would refer to as your legendary leadership thought leadership, business leadership. And uh, tell us what you’re working on first and foremost today. Cause you, you’ve got a lot going on.

Sharon Lechter: Well, thank you so much Clifford and on us an honor to be here and I can send my best to Harvey, a dear friend and applaud all that he’s achieved. And it is, you know, leadership is, um, you know, as I would say, leadership comes from with them, not necessarily something that, uh, comes from other people. I think is important for people to stand in their own power. And I talk about being the CEO of your own life. And for me, I learned that a very young age. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial home and thought that I didn’t want that. I decided I wanted to be the consummate professional. So I it became a CPA and was raising rising in the ranks of the big eight accounting firm back then when there were big eight accounting firms. And uh, at the ripe old age of 25, when we think we know everything, I said, you know, if I’m going to work this hard, I should be working for myself. And that’s when the entrepreneurial bug bit me. But, and I have, I’ve never looked back, but at the end of the day, what I do through my mentoring and my teaching, my writing is teaching people to be in control of their own life. And as a leader, whether you’re an employee or a business owner, as long as you are making the decisions that are right for you and the people around you, and that leadership will bubble up to the top, a true leader. And he either needs to be the pit boss, make those tough decisions or a cheerleader. And the issue is learning when to be which one. So you want to duck when there’s praise and stand tall when there’s criticism.

Cliff Jones: Well you’re the mother of three children and a long, long time marriage to Michael, your husband. Tell us some of the things that you learned as a child and as a young entrepreneur or a business leader that help your family be successful. Because I know, I know a little bit about your family being quite successful.

Sharon Lechter: Well thank you. Um, yes, Mike and I, we just celebrate 39 years together, so, um, and his parents just celebrated or next week, 70 years of marriage. So we’ve had a great examples. My parents were, uh, before they passed would have been married 70 as well. So we lost some a few years ago. But, and it’s part of it as just a mutual respect. And I think as an entrepreneur, our children have the opportunity to learn from with them. They see the sacrifices, they see the successes and giving them the opportunity to understand that every choice we make, every choice we make either drives us to success or not. And each of us is where we are today because of the choices that we made before today. And if we want something different in our life, we just need to start making different choices. And I think a leader understands that because a leader is taking responsibility for the decisions they’re making.

Sharon Lechter: You can say, are you a victim or are you a victor? Well leaders tend to be victors because they are taking responsibility and ownership and willing to make the tough decision. That tough call. Um, you know, I just want something that I had the honor of coming out with a book outwitting the devil, which was hidden away for 73 years, written by Napoleon Hill. And it was his way of addressing, pulls us back that fear, right? That concept of drifting. When you’re not making decisions, you’re just letting other people make decisions around you. And it was really eye opening. And then we’ve been blessed with being able to bring younger generations to the teachings of Napoleon Hill because it is, it makes you think about it. I said, okay, am I taking responsibility for the decisions that I’m making? Because that’s where leadership starts.

Cliff Jones: So when you look back at your first business experience, what would you suggest to anybody today looking at starting a business, leaving, leaving the sanctity of their job and, and starting up for the first time. Were there any, uh, street smarts is Harvey would say that you would advocate,

Sharon Lechter: make sure you’re really building a business and not building a job for yourself. One of my biggest missions as hell, getting more companies and more businesses over that million dollar in revenue. Mark, they’re way too many businesses that are stuck well under a million dollars. And that’s because they’re building jobs for themselves, are not building the systems and the ability to make a successful company. It’s not just not enough to be successful. You need to build the right systems so that that success can be sustainable, scalable, and eventually salable. And that’s how businesses truly succeed. And Way too many business owners spend too much timing working in their business instead of working on their business. And the power of association is making sure you have the right people on your team and you hire your weaknesses, focus on your own strengths and uh, create a business that can live with that beyond you. You know, we want to business to be, we talk about small business versus big businesses and big business. You can walk away for six months, come back and it’s stronger than when you left because the right people are in the right seats, you have the right systems and it’s built to scale.

Cliff Jones: What are some of the skills that a new business owner, you know, in the throes of creating a job, which is pretty, pretty compelling proposition especially if you’re cast out of a company or, or seeking a little more freedom, financial freedom, whatever that looks like. So what, what do you suggest in terms of some of the key skill sets initially to help companies stuck below a million dollars breakthrough is a delegation or other things that you have your paid

Sharon Lechter: Well many times I’d say the number one issue is a lack of self confidence and taking action in Three Feet From Gold. The first book that I, with the foundation we wrote, we released something called the personal success equation. And this applies to whether you’re an employee or business owner and that is, you know, we learn about finding our why, right? The passion plus your talent. That’s all about you. So you’re my, my passion was, I was mad that we weren’t teaching our kids about money in school. My talent was, I’m a CPA by training. I had many years in publishing, so I was able to combine those and most of us stop there. We think we have to do it on our own. Um, certainly that’s what they were taught in school to do it on your own. But in the real world who truly be successful, you have to add that a association, that power of association.

Sharon Lechter: Now having the right people opening doors for you, having the right mentoring. Yeah, I, I love mentoring companies and helping them see things that are right. There are opportunities that they just haven’t recognized yet or steering them around pitfalls. Opening doors of new opportunity, having the right people underneath you, doing the things that you shouldn’t be doing, having the right partners out there, advisors, all of those are very important to build a sustainable business and then taking the right action. Too many times we know what we’re supposed to do, we just don’t do it. And that’s where as you really the driver, a true entrepreneur is action oriented. Execution is the name of the game and then the last element of your personal success equation. Passionate plus talent times association times action is faith. Having faith in yourself, having faith in what you’re doing, having faith that is needed and necessary.

Sharon Lechter: And so many times that F is really fear and that’s what holds us back and the many of it is fear inside us. Thinks that maybe happened to us as a child. And we have to break through that fear and turn that fear from paralyzing us because fear does want to two things. It paralyzes us or motivates us and most of us, it paralyzes and you have to recognize it, illuminate it, get rid of it so that you can keep going forward. And that’s truly how you can create success in your life and not let that in that little devil in your ear telling you’re not good enough, you’re not worthy, or I’m easy for her to say and just get rid of it and realize that everyone has the opportunity and the end, the ability to create the success that they deserve in their lives.

Cliff Jones: Well, I recall as a young boy, 12 years old, uh, Bretton Woods agreement ends, hyperinflation kicks in post OPEC, my father’s hotel in New Hampshire. It, uh, it, it was devastated. Nobody was vacationing. So you talk about fear, uh, you mentioned anger in terms of an anger at, at, uh, financial literacy, not being taught in school. Sounds like you use both to, to a more as a springboard to courage. And the faith you referenced and tell, tell us what made you particularly angry or mad, uh, about the schools not teaching financial literacy because it certainly doesn’t seem to be taught at home very often. We were told, you know, it’s not polite to ask about money, uh, you know, in the sixties and seventies. So we didn’t, we just assumed we would, uh, we would, would talk about it. So, so what made you particularly angry to take, to be such an activist? This one?

Sharon Lechter: Well, am I take exception to saying that it’s not taught at home. It may not be taught like where you actually discuss it, but believe me, that’s where children learn about money because they see the mistakes are parents make, they see the parent, you know, the, the, the opportunities of the new things. And that’s, you know, I talk about the state, the statement, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Well that’s because that’s where you learn of it home. You don’t learn it demonstrative late, but you learn it through experience, seeing those decisions your parents make. And so many times when I work with teenagers to say, my parents need to learn this, but you know, that’s how we can level the playing field. It’s making sure young people are taught about money because that’s where opportunity, once a child knows how to make money there, the sky’s the limit.

Sharon Lechter: And so my, my anger came from the fact that I didn’t realize people aren’t taught about money in school because I was taught by my parents. I grew up in that environment and it was when we had our own child and our oldest son went off to college here at Asu and unbeknownst to us gets to college and his first quarter, first semester yet a really good time, he got himself into $2,500 a credit card debt. I was livid and mad at him, but also mad at myself because I thought I had taught him, I taught him the lessons that I had learned. But when I went to college, there weren’t credit cards on every corner. And so that was the summer of 1992 and that’s really when I dedicated the rest of my career to financial education and financial literacy. And I’m as angry about it today as I was back then. Even though we continue to make incremental progress, it just slays me that adults, caring adults, don’t just stamp their feet and say, teach my children what they need to succeed when it comes to money.

Cliff Jones: So if I heard you correctly, financial literacy habits are, are, are basically learned at home. I mean, what I learned from my parents was, it wasn’t polite to ask about money back then, people didn’t necessarily, uh, middle, Middle America didn’t have a stockbroker or, or things like that. But I certainly learn lessons by watching and, and that motivated me to, to learn on my own. So, so tell us, you know, it ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t know Sharon, uh, and, and the work she did with Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I’d like you Sharon, to talk about that because that was, that made a major impact all over the world. I mean, global brand. And you were really a driver of that business and that stem from your passion, was it that, that desire to really make a difference that, that, uh, that, that drove that?

Sharon Lechter: No, absolutely. Um, you know, I think just before I go into that, I just want to add something that you just talked about. You know, if you think about what your kid, your parents said to you about money, we can’t afford it. Um, save for rainy days, a pinch your pennies, all of those statements have something in common. They’re negative. So as we’re growing up, money, negative, money, negative, that’s what we’re hearing. So subconsciously we have this subconscious attitude of scarcity. And so that colors our attitude towards money unless we learn to get past that and release that negativity. And so I recognize that with our own son. And my husband is an intellectual property attorney. And one day he called me in back in 2006 and said, you know, he had met this guy, Robert Kiyosaki, and he had this idea for a board game. So watch for the very first Beta test for the game cashflow.

Sharon Lechter: And I love the concept because it was teaching the same thing that I taught. And that was the importance of bill building, buying or creating assets, assets that generate income. Cause financial freedom is truly when your income from your assets exceeds your monthly expenses. You are truly financially free. You’re no longer reliant on a paycheck. And that’s financial freedom. And so I volunteered to help Robert make the game commercial because of my background. I had done talking electronic books. I bought that global brand so I had all the connections on games and that type of thing. So we in the process of releasing that game, um, Robert told me he wanted to charge $200 for it. And I said, well I probably should write a brochure that kind of explains the philosophy that’s kind of pricey for a board game. And so at that time he asked me to be as partner and um, we wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad as the brochure.

Sharon Lechter: We never expected that it was going to take on a life of its own. We thought it was going to be one and done one book. Well, 15 books later at 30 million books sold, um, in a hundred countries, 50 languages. I mean, it took the world by storm because it was simply weren’t telling, we weren’t shaking our fingers if people, we were sharing a story, a story of how you can take control of your financial life and it was the right message at the right time. And it was really truly, um, know at that time, I thought that was my legacy. I, we were partners for 10 years and you own the company and built it around the globe. And it was an incredible opportunity to build the largest personal finance brand. And when I made the decision to leave, and that was when the Napoleon Hill Foundation reached out to me and asked me to step in and reinvigorate the teachings of Napoleon Hill. And that was talking about a huge honor, having built the fine largest personal finance brand being asked, step into the largest personal development brand, um, with some incredible honor. And that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t made the decision to leave Rich Dad. So sometimes you have to close one door for other doors though.

Cliff Jones: Well, well you mentioned pulling hill and in ladies and gentleman, you don’t know who Napoleon Hill is. And actually I meet quite a number of people who don’t know who Napoleon Hill is. He’s the author of Think and Grow Rich. I would say unquestionably one of the most legendary leaders in the world’s history. And, and uh, for those of you not looking at my, uh, background or bookshelf, that book is there. Uh, and, and what are some of the principles that you carried forth from the, from the foundation? It was Outwitting the Devil, I think you mentioned was, was one of the books.

Sharon Lechter: Right. I did. My first book was Three Feet From Gold and they reached out to me because we all remember what happened to the economy. And 2008. So that was their original Think and Grow Rich was released in 1937 in many of today’s successful companies, credit, I’m thinking grow rich for helping them establish their companies and grow their companies. But as you say, many people young, and today, my definition of young people is anybody under 50 keeps getting older. Um, didn’t really know who he was, but when I talked to them I say, you need me, I don’t know his name. You may not even recognize the book thinking grow rich. But you know his, his legacy, he created the concept mastermind. He created the concept of there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. President Roosevelt is credited for it, but Napoleon Hill actually wrote it. Um, and Napoleon hill was the one who started the concept of pay yourself first and you’ve heard that from personal financial planners and bankers and, but it was a whole concept and he actually was the first one to talk about the law of attraction. Now Rhonda Burns of course made it hugely famous through the movie and the book The Secret and Napoleon Hill first wrote about it in 119. So while you might not know his name or even thinking grow rich, you definitely know his work and his mark on our society and it continues. All of his work. Is still as valid today is when he released it.

Cliff Jones: So these days you’re, you’re never dull moment for you. It’s hard to keep up. Tell everybody what you’re working on right now. You mentioned the, the play big movement. Tell us about that.

Sharon Lechter: Well, as you said, I have three children and unfortunately six years ago I lost my youngest son and I was, I was working like crazy hours. And um, but when something like that happens, it’s kind of stops you in your tracks. And I kind of put my life a neutral and I had been playing a big game all of my life stood where the talking books, taking them globally with Disney and Warner Brothers and Sesame Street. And then with rich dad taking a globally with Warner books sometime life. It’s just how I operate. I say you’re gonna if you’re gonna work hard, work hard with big players that can make you have more of an impact. Um, but losing a son redefined everything, you know, things that used to upset me, didn’t upset me anymore. And so about a year and a half ago, I made the decision that I should probably retire because I wasn’t feeling the same excitement about what I was doing.

Sharon Lechter: And I got a lot of pushback, a lot of pushback from my family, my friends, my fans. And um, I think I even got a little push back from my son upstairs. I could hear him saying, get over a mom. You’ve got more to do. And everyone watching and listening to this, you have more to do. You have a contribution to make. You’re still here. There’s so many people who can, um, improve their lives by knowing you, knowing what you own, your successes, and even knowing your failures because she can help people prevent them from repeating them. And so I made the decision, um, just about a year ago to what for me called play big again. And that is to really start playing a bigger game and supporting people and playing a bigger game in their own environments. And so this is the, there’s a private Facebook page called The Play Big Movement.

Sharon Lechter: It’s free to join and it’s something that I want people to understand. You know, it’s uh, the program is lots, so if you, maybe if you’re financially stressed, all right, so I have one program that I offer that gets people from being financially disturbed or stress to break even. But then if you’re truly out there and you’re kind of comfortable but you’re not quite where you want to be, I want to help you get from where you are. Maybe it’s survival mode, maybe even comfortable mode, but to financially free. And you do that by changing the way you think. And so I talk about action steps you can take financially, action steps you need to take up here because so much of our success is mental or so many of the barriers that keeps us from being success are up here as this I want us or people getting to that level.

Cliff Jones: You also mentioned earlier that you’ve got a new books in the works. Please tell us about that.

Sharon Lechter: Well I have another book coming out in September of ’19 and that is called Success is Something Greater. And it is also with the Napoleon Hill Foundation. And then I’m also working on thinking grow rich for kids. And that will probably be out in early 2020 so excited about both of those.

Cliff Jones: Well you clearly have a passion for writing, teaching, making a difference. You’ve led by example. If there were one thing, we have a lot of budding authors and business owners who want to write books and approach Harvey Mackay about this. So there are one thing you would suggest to anybody listening about writing a book. Uh, any, any street smarts there?

Sharon Lechter: Well, if you’re expecting to write a book and make millions of dollars. I would say you should probably reevaluate that a book is a, is a way to start building your platform. And so it’s not the book that you need to pay attention to. It’s the business and the systems around the book. In fact, I just this morning had a marketing call with a publisher of the new book Success in Something Greater. Now I can sit back and do nothing because of the fact that it’s got my name and my network and it’s got the foundation. And we’ll sell a lot of copies, but I want to expand our network. I want to reach more people. And so that by having the systems in place and the marketing plan to help get the message out to as many people as possible. And so if you’re looking at writing a book is I, I liken it to a three legged stool, all right?

Sharon Lechter: You have your book and it could be fantastically written. Then you have yourself, your ability to communicate, your ability to speak about the book, your ability to share it, and they can get training there as well. But what happens when you only have two legs of a three legged stool, right? Your third leg is your platform. How are you going to communicate to the world you and the book are there and how are you going to be able to give them the ability to feed back into you and what are the ongoing services that you can provide? So you need to be, you’ve heard the term funnel. A funnel is not going to do you any good if you don’t have the platform existing that you can get to people. And so you need to build that system and that business around the book. Then that book is just the pinnacle of what you do. Everything else is what makes you money.

Cliff Jones: Words of wisdom for sure. So ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been speaking with Sharon Lechter, American well certified public accountant, a prolific author, hugely successful businessperson, continuing to invest, speak and uh, you’re, you’re on the road again. Um, what, what is it, the uh, you mentioned the platform that you’re beginning to speak,

Sharon Lechter: Get Motivated. You used to be many, many years of Peter Lowe seminars, but it’s now getmotivated.com you can go for information.

Cliff Jones: Well, we’re glad you didn’t retire. We’re thrilled that you spent a little time with us today. Very appreciative of that. And thank you very much Sharon.

Sharon Lechter: Well, thank you. I invite everybody to come visit me. SharonLechter.com has information about where I am. I’m on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, all under Sharon Lechter. So I’ll look forward to hearing from everyone.

Cliff Jones: That’s wonderful. Thank you, Sharon.

Sharon Lechter: Thank you.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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