S01 EP04: How Representation, Diversity, & Research Can Move the Financial Planning Profession Forward to Serve the Next Generation

Dr. Ajamu Loving is a TrailBlazer in every sense of the world. As the first black Ph.D. recipient for Personal Financial Planning in the profession, he has dedicated his life to making financial planning more accessible and to diversity research.

Dr. Ajamu Loving grew up with admiration and love for the financial planning profession after watching and learning from his dad, who is a Financial Planner. Dr. Loving earned his Ph.D. in Personal Financial Planning from Texas Tech University where he was an AT&T Chancellor’s fellow and earned a B.A. from Morehouse College cum laude where he majored in Economics and minored in Mathematics. He is blazing a trail for many to follow as he is the first Black Ph.D. recipient in Personal Financial Planning. In this way, and many, many others, he is the definition of a TrailBlazer.

Dr. Loving has a burning passion for making personal finance accessible to minority and underserved communities who haven’t historically had financial planning tools and professionals made available to them. He’s also incredibly involved in the promotion of diversity, inclusion, and representation in the financial planning community.

His experiences as a financial planner, researcher, and financial planning community member has impacted our profession and industry - and will continue to do so! 


What You'll Learn:

  • How to brave awkward conversations about race and gender with clients and colleagues in your firm or organization

  • The importance of keeping your cool as you tackle learning moments

  • How to find the confidence to speak up when you’re in a situation that’s awkward, insensitive, or offensive

  • The importance of mentorship in the diversity and inclusion movement in the financial planning profession and financial service industry

  • How research can help the profession and industry make better D&I decisions

  • The ways that diverse groups outperform majority groups within this - and other - industries

Show Notes:

Episode Transcript

Rianka: 00:00:03 Dr Ajamu Loving. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Ajamu: 00:00:05 Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to start to talk to you on this 2050 TrailBlazers, a podcast. It's a podcast you've had so far have been really cool and I'm happy that you invited me to be one of them, thanks.

Rianka: 00:00:20 No, it's a pleasure. I'm so excited for our listeners to, um, just to learn more about you to learn more about your career path, what you're doing in the academic world and also your experience. Uh, I think you bring a very important perspective to 2050 trailblazers to our listeners and also to the profession. So let's just go ahead and jump right in. I met Ajamu at a FPA annual conference and it was by accident. I was eating lunch with Laurie Baloo who is one of my favorite people in the financial planning world. And um, I just, I just kept hearing this laugh. There's very energetic, contagious laugh and I'm like, who is that? Her back was to your table, but I could see you guys and was like, what? Like who is this group of people? And it seems like the party is over there, so let's go join them. And Lori, she turned back, she was like "Oh, that's Ajamu!," so I was like, OK, well let's go join them. And uh, you know, we've been laughing together ever since.

Ajamu: 00:01:40 It's been a great time. And Lori has been a great friend. She's been rolling her eyes at my jokes since we were in school at Texas Tech. She was in the master's program there and they pinned us all in the, in the graduate layer together. And so she's been forced to listen to my silliness. For, Oh, for a long time now. And so she's, she's a great friend and we always have a great time where we're together. So I'm always excited to get together because I always know we're going to have a lot of fun. There'll be a lot of laughs. And you know, I, I do like to do, I'm a big laugher

Rianka: 00:02:20 Well, I know if I'm ever having a not so good day, I know who to call. I call Ajamu.

Ajamu: 00:02:26 There you go. That's good. Maybe that's another business in that.

Rianka: 00:02:29 Yeah, let's start. Let's start diversifying your business lines.

Ajamu: 00:02:33 Right?

Rianka: 00:02:35 So speaking of business, so you have been in the financial planning world for many years, how many years have you been, you know, it, you know, in the financial planning space,

Ajamu: 00:02:45 is this the part of the interview I'm supposed to feel old, OK, yes, many years ago, I guess I have actually been in it for awhile though? I, uh, formally started it in 2002, but I've been hearing about and having financial planning discussions since the eighties because my dad's a financial planner with Waddell and reed and has been for awhile. He's had his own practice and so we've always had these discussions like most kids don't want to come out of college and do with your parents did. I went to Banking Group and um, I had a great time doing that. Learned a lot about how financial services companies work, but eventually I came to the place that I needed something with more people interaction?

Rianka: 00:03:38 So you kind of jumped in to what my first question was was how did you even find the world of financial planning ? And so it sounds like your dad is the one who introduced you to the world of financial planning.

Ajamu: 00:03:54 We've always had discussions about how I'm investing and and proper insurances and making sure that you're financially mindful and using all of the financial tools properly can really make your life a whole lot a whole lot better than a whole lot easier and how all of this is out here then just people don't really know how to use it and so we've had great conversations about thinking about financial planning and thinking about it from a comprehensive way and so the funny thing is even though he's never been in a in a CFP classroom or anything like this, I think that some people just get it and he had been, he's one of those people that looks at things from a problem solving standpoint and so he looks at he looks at each client comprehensively and always has and always discussed it with me that way and talk to me about it like that.

Rianka: 00:04:55 That's pretty interesting because you and I have very different upbringings, where money, speaking about finances was definitely taboo. If, if I ever and I recall asking about money or oh, just like, you know, inquiring and it's moreso of, you know, stay out of grown folks business. And it wasn't a piece of the conversation that I was privy to, but it sounds like your upbringing was totally different, which previous discussions and just me knowing you, you started off in the financial planning and we're like, that was your first career, you know, being in personal finance. So tell us about that.

Ajamu: 00:05:36 I think it is fair to call it my first career because even though I was in financial services, in the banking side of things, I wasn't that passionate about it, so that was more of a job phase of my life after I graduated college. But this was, um, this was definitely the start of my career in financial planning and an evolving one when I, um, when I worked in a bank branch doing financial planning from 2002 to when I started the phd program at Texas Tech. And so it was, uh, it was in a, a south suburb of Chicago. Very mixed environment and people from all walks of life, different levels of wealth, uh, different types of financial issues and different types of issues that, uh, that I had in terms of personnel, bankers and the tellers and all that. It was a, it was a really sort of all encompassing, fun experience working in that way as a, as a financial planner is a different way to look at it. Rianka: 00:06:35 You enter the world, I guess financial services on the banking side, you mentioned that you want it more of a, uh, more of a human interaction more so of non transactional. And so you kind of transitioned. Um, and so and so tell us what that transition was like. Like how, how did you know, um, it was time for you to transition. And then also how did you know that there was another career path? Like, all right, well this doesn't work for me. I still like financial services. I still like personal finance well. Here's a different career path.

Ajamu: 00:07:09 I went through a rotational program in while I was in banking, so I got to see a lot of banking, it wasn't that I just got one job. And was like, ah, I don't like it. I got to see different parts of corporate finance and I enjoyed them, it just wasn't something that really took off with me. I knew that we had an internal bank branch financial planning program, but there were certain elements of that that of turned me off. One of them being that the compensation that you made wasn't going to be a salary. It was going to be based on your production and that's a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people. And so I was making a good salary and it made, it made it more difficult for me to make the transition to make the decision to make that transition. But I think once you get it in your head that you have to be passionate about it in order to really get the type of success out of it that you are to get.

Ajamu: 00:08:04 Then you start, OK, well man, I'm willing to make that jump. And that was, that was kinda how it worked. Discussion with a, a gentleman by the name of Tom who ran the financial planning function within what is now bank of America at that time. And um, then he had been one of our advisors when I first came into that rotational finance program, you know, I took a liking to him and he took a liking to me and he said, look, why don't you try out this associate development center where you can go in there and learn all about the financial planning products that are out there, all of the ways in which we position products to people, the ways in which we work with personnel to make sure that we have the type of productivity going in a branch, all of these different types of things.

Ajamu: 00:08:51 And so you're, you're in the, the ADC as they call it, associate development center for about maybe six months maybe depending on how quickly you pass your series seven and 66 and life and health exams also, depending upon the availability of a branch. Yeah, this is a different process I think as compared to to other places, or at least it was then. But I got to spend a lot of time with the products, dig into the way that they worked. Um, understand how you use them for the clients. And that sort of got that, probably say that's where the seed of sort of how you could research into, uh, into personal finance got planted in me because that's when I started thinking about deeper issues related to these products and tools and who would use them and why or why not all the rest of the fun stuff that I think that you can explore as an academic.

Rianka: 00:09:50 What was the trigger? What made you decide to switch career paths, and say, all right, well I'm kind of done working with clients now I want to kind of switch over and just do more research. Like what was that trigger for you?

Ajamu: 00:10:09 Uh, that's a pretty early on in the process. I took to really studying the products a little bit more than your average financial advisor or rep that's out there and reading the articles that were out there about financial planning, um, it. But there was as much research out there and I wouldn't say that that was as much, even when I decided to make the jump to Phd, I don't think I was as interested in research as much as I was the idea of hey, there should be something in school that teaches people how to become financial planners. But I, I wasn't aware of any academic programs that are focused exclusively on personal financial planning. But I did while I was in, in Undergrad and college, I was an economics and math major and they were prepping me to actually do a phd in economics

Ajamu: 00:11:03 And so when I graduated and said no, I'm not doing phd in economics. And went into banking because I wanted to get stack at bay right away. Um, there was still that sort of interest in me. And so when, uh, when I started studying all of the financial planning products, the mutual funds, there are a lot of mutual funds, even variable annuities and different types of insurance products. I became the resource for a lot of the other young reps that we're asking questions about the products. Not just a, not just how they work, but also had a position them for new clients how to use them the right way. And so I was thinking, man, you know, they should, there should be a function that works like this out there within education. And so I did an internet site search, for PHD financial planning. What popped up was Texas Tech.

Rianka: 00:12:04 Shot out to Texas Tech. Although, you know, the rivalry is Virginia Tech, but I know you're a graduate of Texas. I love Texas Tech. That any, any, uh, institution that is spreading the good gospel of personal finance. You are OK in my page.

Ajamu: 00:12:04 Well how very diplomatic of you, Rianka. Thank you, that's very nice.

Rianka: 00:12:04 You are OK in my book and you're on the good side of the page. So, you found Texas Tech and Texas Tech now, now there's a handful of PHD programs like Missouri, Kansas State, University of Georgia. Um, but Texas tech popped up for you and you said, OK, let me research and, and dive back into the academic world and dedicate my life to studying. What made you say, I want to do a phd program.

Ajamu: 00:13:00 I think that probably the best thing is that you end up having these questions that you want to ask and a burning desire to do something. The reason I say it's got to be a burning desire is that you're taking your taking a drastic pay cut to do a PHD program. You take a drastic pay cut and then you took a drastic increase in the amount of work that you're doing

Rianka: 00:13:22 That's an inverse correlation. Isn't it? Isn't it like, decrease in pay with an increase in workload? You had to have a burning passion for sure.

Ajamu: 00:13:33 Yes. It's going to be very difficult for you to sell it just based on the financial merritts that'll be right on the onset. So terrible initial deal. But if you, if you really care about what it is that you'd be teaching, which is, you know, a personal finance and financial planning. Man, I really did enjoy studying this and so it was, it was easier for me to say, I, let's, let's move in this direction. Then I also saw the potential of the field. I, I can't say that I had my mind closed off completely to the, um, the financial opportunities that would have that happened afterwards. All right, so I knew that this was something that was going to grow and with this being a new phd field, yeah, there's a little bit of risk in that, but the older established phd feels like economics.

Ajamu: 00:14:24 They didn't have the types of questions that excited me as much and I didn't see the, the growth potential, the way that I saw financial planning, so it wasn't just the passion for the questions that we're going to be out there or the, the passion for the students that I'd teaching. I also selfishly thought, hey man, just like a pioneer thinks when they're going out there goin going west and trying to strike gold, like man, there's going to be an opportunity out there, other people will wish they did what I did, you know, I, I, even though I became the first black phd in personal financial planning, um, I just had to throw that out there and do it first

Rianka: 00:15:08 Let's pause, because that's a huge accomplishment. And I remember like when I first found this out about you, he was like, yeah, but I was like, hold on, hold on, hold on. There's no but about that know, that we have to celebrate that because you are part of history and there are going to be in representation and that's something that we are learning more about, um, not only in America but specifically within the financial service industry and if we look at a more granular view in the financial planning world, but representation is really important. And so you representing, in the Phd world and you being one the first uh, black graduate with a phd in personal finance. That is huge and I just want to say thank you for blazing that trail. You are essentially a trailblazer.

Ajamu: 00:16:05 Well, thank you, Rianka. I think at this point I'm going to start referring to myself in the third person for the rest of the interview, and Ajamu is very pleased to accept your...

Rianka: 00:16:19 You see, listeners, that this is why I always talk to Ajamu.

Ajamu: 00:16:25 Seriously though I think you're absolutely right. Representation is important. I think that it's going to be great, that people can look and see, hey man I won't be the first person to do a phd in financial planning. There are some people who've done it. If Ajamu Loving did it with his silly self than I most certainly can make it through this process. Right? So I think you're absolutely right when you see somebody who looks like you, who just comes from a regular background who did this and this and is out there working and doing some things you're interested in, you recognize, man, I can do this too. And uh, and I hope that that's what people do.

Rianka: 00:17:06 Yeah, I mean, when, I was already inspired conversations like we, we have fun, but we also have really awesome conversations as well that when I walk away it makes me think or even research that you share with me, which we're definitely going to get into today in our conversation. But you make me sit back and think, wow, what, what more can I be doing? How can I share this information? So you definitely have already touched me. And so, um, I'm sure you're, you're touching others as well, especially your students, um, uh, that you get a chance to be in front of every day.

Ajamu: 00:17:49 Actually, who was it that said it, Michael, and he quotes this all the time in terms of, in terms of being successful for speaking, you want to be, you need to be educating, um, an, a, you need to be inspiring. And I try to try to do those things. I try to be educational I try to be to be inspiring, but also try to be entertaining to, and if I can be all three then people will learn something, people will do something right, which is great and there people will want to come back because if you entertain them, you made them feel good. They said I had a great time doing that and they'll want to come back and do more of it so that way it makes it easier for me as a professor because I don't have to chase people down, they will come to class come to class willingly, which is nice.

Rianka: 00:18:32 I remember you telling me that there was a really bad thunderstorm other day and you were in like, who should I still go to class or you know, should I let the students off today, you were like naw I'm gonna go and see who shows up and you say everyone showed up so that, that, that just. That's just a testament right there of students. They will go through a thunderstorm to get to your class.

Ajamu: 00:18:53 I was actually surprised when I open the door and saw students in there sitting down and then more came later. I was, I was very happy about that because I remember when I was a student, I'm not sure that I would've made it to class, on that particular day. We have, we try to have fun together though. That's what it is.

Rianka: 00:19:15 So being the first at anything is, um, is sometimes scary. It's, it scary during the process. In the end it is definitely rewarding. Um, I know that you could, there are some listeners out there right now who may be the only one, the only woman in their firm or organization or the only woman that is at the top level of the leadership, um, in the c-suite or they could be a person of color. They can be, you know, the only Asian, the only Hispanic, the only, you know, African American, um, in their organization. And so it's what advice, what, what I guess kind of like what motivated you to keep pushing because you share a couple of stories which you know, I hope we can share with today, um, about just some of the, I don't know if adversity is too strong, but just some interesting situations that you were put in that could've made you just, I'd be like, you know what, I don't feel like I fit in. I don't feel like this is for me. Let me just go back to, you know, what I'm comfortable with.

Ajamu: 00:20:36 I can definitely attest to what I will call, if not, you know, at first at least weirdness, unfortunately, awkward situations that have happened. Um, I remember one of my, uh, this is actually my first time sitting down with a, with a client and doing tip to tail, a 401k rollover. Right. And, um, and I was working in partnership with my buddy Richmond who was also a graduate of the associate development center. And um, and we, you know, when we're making sure that we dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's and we had a great time with this client, he was the classic Chicago South suburbs client down to the way that he talked and the mustache and everything, he had the Bears jacket, everything, and the amber sunglasses, all of it. OK. So this is the classic Chicago really good visual here, classic Chicago Guy, and he sat down with, with, uh, with two black guys, Richmond's a black guy to um, and, and we went through his, uh, his entire financial history and all he wanted to accomplish.

Ajamu: 00:21:53 And so we get to the end and we're filling out all of the paperwork in. And let me sit the other stage for you because it's February, so you know, you're getting it. It's black history month in February. So it's cold too. So he's got his, he's got on his cold weather gear well it's all sitting on the side because he's inside. But, but, but it's uh, it's February and he says, um, so I was watching a documentary last night. I'm like OK, here we go. And they said it, and uh, you know, the one thing I don't get about slavery and, this is where Richmond and I look at each other, like Oh boy where is this going, right. You know, one thing I don't get about slavery is if ya owned a good horse, then why would you beat it like that? And uh, so Richmond and not looking at each other. Now there's this gentleman who was saying this is, he obviously didn't hate us.

Ajamu: 00:23:02 He obviously trusted us. He is working with us with his entire financial future. And I think he finally just felt comfortable enough to, you know, in a way I felt good that we'd done our jobs well enough for him to feel comfortable enough to ask us this question. But also it's an incredibly awkward question, and one of those ones where you, you should feel a little bit offended as you hear it. I think every listeners probably feeling a little offended just listening to me talk about it. And so at that point, it's one of those deals, what do I do? How do I handle this situation? And I think a lot of people have been there before. And the way that I handled it was first I deep breath and I always recommend you take a deep breath and think for a second and think about how you want to come out of this thing positively and I

Ajamu: 00:23:54 And I looked at the gentleman, I said, I think that the deep tragedy here is that any human being would ever be treated like a horse to begin with. And then he looked at me, shook his head in the affirmative, and then we moved on and we, we finished out, closing out the business and I got my first piece of a commission, made money. The gentleman went on, I'm sure to a wildly successful retirement. Richmond went on to be successful as well. Everybody moves in a productive direction. And I think if we can have productive direction conclusions to all of the inevitable awkward moments that are going to come somewhere from racially based. Man, if we can keep our heads focused in that direction, we're going, we're going to be all right. We're going to be all right. As, as an industry, as a profession,

Rianka: 00:24:49 If this was actually video taped right now, I'm sitting here with my mouth wide open. Ah, because Ajamu, I don't know what I would doing in that in that situation. It. Wow. Uh, because it's pretty frustrating. Um, well yeah. See I'm, I'm at a loss for words because it's just like, um, you were young, you were a young professional and so I'm just, you know, do we need to have these conversations with the students and just, and especially women, especially with this me to movement that's going on and, and, and students of color of just saying, hey, there are just. And just like you say, he didn't come from a place of malice, but it was, it was moreso of, is ignorant the right word?

Ajamu: 00:25:54 I think ignorance is a perfect word. I think he was legitimately curious. And also legitimately ignorant about slavery, but also the underlying, the underlying issue that he never had to address until I said it to him is this sort of supposition that a black person is not an actual human being in person. And I'm not saying that he necessarily thought that about Richmond and myself as we sat there. But I think in the abstract he had, he had never really thought about black people as, as people, especially when you think about him being comfortable with him being treated as, as a horse. I get, I honestly get where he was going. It's like, oh, well, you know, why would you, why would you mistreat a tool or mistreat a, a, an animal that was helping you be productive and I think, that a lot of times people need to step outside of themselves. And I think our, our profession is one where we are uniquely qualified to step outside of ourselves.

Ajamu: 00:27:01 And sometimes we step outside of ourselves to teach others about the, um, the genuine importance of being fair to other people as I had to do with that gentlemen. Sometimes we step out of ourselves as, as professionals. Every time we meet with a client to try to get them to where they're going and realize that it's not about us, but it's a, it's about the client. So I think that in our industry we're, we're an industry that we, we should be able to embrace and use diversity to make us, to make us better, much more readily than some other industries.

Rianka: 00:27:39 I a hundred percent agree with you on that, and so I know this is not the first time that this has happened. Whether it's this type of conversation. I know I've had some very awkward conversations as well, but this is not my interview, so we're not going to go there.

Ajamu: 00:27:39 We could do a whole awkward conversations podcast.

Rianka: 00:27:59 Oh my gosh. Oh goodness. Um, yeah, I've, I've had my run in with just like clients who have, you know, gotten really comfortable with me and have said some very, um, weird things and, and I never said anything and now I wish I would have because it would have been a learning moment for that client and, and it would have also been a learning moment for the person whom I report it to. So my manager. So I should have said something to my manager and say, Hey, this is what this client just said. How do we address this? Um, and then I think there's a fear of and, and I think the reason why I didn't speak up was all right is this manager who gonna take my side or they gonna take the client's side? Not in the side of who's right or who's wrong, but are my feelings going to be dismissed?

Ajamu: 00:29:01 Yes, you know, I think that's a real sort of fear that's out there. You have to try to be professional, even as your correcting someone, maybe making the situation awkward for them so that they recognize that it's not appropriate to, to do certain things or treat people in certain types of lazy, but you have to try to do it in a way that you keep your cool and that's why I say to take a take a deep breath because sometimes you can start to address more than the offense at hand, and you get upset about all of the things, as you said before, that you didn't say something about and then you unload. You have to be careful while unloading.

Rianka: 00:29:41 I definitely appreciate you sharing that story, Ajamu, because I think this is going to give the confidence for other people who are, who feel like they're not in a position to speak up, to speak up again like this. This incident that I'm thinking about having like five, six years ago, and again, I wish I would've said something, and so if you are in a situation or if you've had a situation where just some awkward moments have happened, uh, I will encourage you to, to speak up and share it with your manager or you know, your boss, you know, whomever it is that you speak to or even your mentor, like, um, maybe the offense happened with, you know, the person that you, um, that you report to. And so I think that's why mentors and mentorship is a, it's something that's really important because I think it's important for you to have a relationship with people outside of your firm, but who, who's also in the financial planning world so they can add some context to whatever it is the conversation is about.

Ajamu: 00:30:50 Definitely.

Rianka: 00:30:52 And so speaking of, uh, mentors, do you have any mentors and how did you find them?

Ajamu: 00:31:08 Well, ok, so my most convenient mentor is my dad. That was really easy and our mentorship has developed over the years as I grew closer to financial planning. And as he became more and more successful in his business. So he is actually my financial planner and my mentor in a lot of ways, but I have a lot of people, um, I'm not shy, Rianka, so I'm pretty comfortable asking questions when I, uh, when I need them. So are people who don't know that they're my mentors but they are right. Some I'm willing to ask questions of them and get what I need at least informationally, uh, as I go through, I'd say Dr Finka, who was my, um, my dissertation chair is definitely sometimes more official than others mentor of mine. But, um, I always look at the way that he's done things in terms of, uh, in terms of research and always pressing forward in his career and I admire that, there are mentors that I have though on the other sides, I mean Dr. Oz

Ajamu: 00:32:16 Dr. Oz is, is certainly certainly a person who I look at as wow, Dr Oz, Dr Oz, when I look at personal finance and financial planning as a topic. I think part of the reason that we haven't sort of clicked the switching gotten it is because just like you were saying, most families aren't talking about finance and financial decision making and their financial condition as a family. You think, yeah, these are very private matters, and I'd say, yeah, almost agree with you, until I watched the Dr Oz show and he'll be talking about the digestive problems and he said, who has gas? So who here has horrible gas? You'll see a bunch of hands go up and the audience, on television, admitting they have horrible gas, or bad breath, or smelly feet, and all of these things, right? All these terrible things. And then he talks through all of these things. People would have the most difficult time sitting through some of these topics in a biology class.

Ajamu: 00:33:22 But he talks about them in a way that they understand how they can relate and improve their lives through the understanding of, uh, of their physical health and in the medical side of things. And we need that on the, on the personal finance side. So we need a doctor Loving show. So I'll look at shows like his and think about man, how can I talk about topics like a, I don't know, not having life insurance and then your family sitting there with the hat, passing it around at the funeral, trying to pay for, uh, the expenses associated with your death and being very sad about that versus people who use insurance effectively so that they can lead, they can lead comfortable lives during times of terrible discomfort. And so, um, that's, that's one of my things is that eventually we want to move to a place where we have a doctor Oz equivalent in personal finance, and that could be Dr Loving

Rianka: 00:34:19 It definitely can, I tell you, I stalk, I mean following you on Facebook, and you put out some really good videos. They're short, they're concise, they are very informative and I share them every time that you, put one out there, I share it because I'm literally anyone on my, on my friend list will be able to benefit from this. And not everybody, not everybody has the gift of giving concise information when it comes to personal finance in a two to three minute segment, um, where it's just here it is in a funny way and you do it and you put it out there. Um, so how has, if, if anything like how has your research, um, benefited, you to be able to be so concise with this information and putting it out there. And when is the launch of your Doctor Loving show?

Ajamu: 00:35:27 I'm glad you asked both of those questions. Research is important. To be able to give a person a succinct, understandable answer to something a lot of times is a lot. It's very difficult unless you really know the topic well. Research, gives you both the confidence and the background to know enough about what you're saying so that your answers can be simple. And then the more that you know something, it's like in acting in the script, the more you know the script the more, that you can embody it and give it to somebody else in a way that they can take it, use it and feel it. Right. And so research I think gives you that. I didn't always feel that way, but I definitely developed to that place of understanding that knowing things at a deeper level is helpful. And then also understand that, that you don't know everything so that you can, you can recognize that there's more for you to learn and that you don't over confidently answer people's questions in ways that leave you out there.

Ajamu: 00:36:22 You don't really know what you're talking about. OK. And um, in terms of its own terms of developing this into a, a, a Doctor Loving show, um, that those videos on facebook were my first step towards it, I've actually got a website that we're starting to develop content for, but there's a couple, um, a couple of things in operation now where we're moving closer to a Doctor Loving show concept. But the first one may be a little bit more like, um, have you seen the TV show Good Eats with Alton Brown, he's another one of those guys is a unofficial sort of person that I'm looking at it as, man, this guy is doing it because he talks about food science or in a way that's entertaining. And the average individual doesn't even cook, can find it, um, informative, inspirational and educational. Right? And so that's one format where you can go without having the crowd in the studio and all of those things and really dive into an issue and put out in an informative, educational, inspirational, fun video that people can use.

Ajamu: 00:37:28 And so that may be the first step unless somebody listens to this podcast, he was like, no, no, we need to accelerate things. We need to get this guy in a studio audience with a crowd with some writers, and some other people all around him and we can have the whole Dr Oz type of production out there. Oprah calls, Tyler Perry sitting around a coffee table together. I'm not saying this is going to happen, but it's just sort of how I envisioned it, Rianka, feel with me for a moment. As we think about the Oprah Tyler Perry moments where I'm sitting there, it's, there's fabulously infused waters that are on the coffee table, it's like a strawberry cucumber, lemon thing that's happening with the water. It's delicious. And it's the most refreshing thing that you've ever tasted. Anyway. That that can happen to all right,

Rianka: 00:38:26 It can happen. Let me tell you Ajamu, I 100 percent whole heartedly believe that when you put something out there, the universe conspires with you, not against you. So, um, yeah,

Rianka: 00:38:36 I don't know if it's going to be Oprah, but maybe a Oprah equivalent

Rianka: 00:38:42 Will, will reach out and they'll hear this. I mean, just even through speaking on the podcast, so you have all this energy and personality. So I'm, I'm, I'm looking forward to seeing what you do. And um, this is something where I'm going. Yeah. I've, I've noticed that you haven't put out a videos here recently, however, it's going to be my mission to make sure that it starts happening again because it's really important.

Ajamu: 00:39:19 In an effort to up the production value, I bought some editing software, and some other things to, to give better videos and a better product. And then, whatcha start doing, is you start tinkering with the idea of, man, I can do this perfectly. He end up doing nothing. So you're right I need to get back on just putting it out there and giving people stuff that they can use that and thinking the thinking of being and you know, thinking the things and the servant first attitude and I think that's when everybody wins.

Rianka: 00:39:43 There's a saying that perfection is the enemy of progress, and so I've had to deal with that as well throughout my career, even when launching my firm a perfection, we're all perfectionists or have that Ah, ounce of perfectionist in us and it can definitely halt to us from doing some things that the world is waiting for. And this is something that the world is waiting for Ajamu

Ajamu: 00:39:43 Well thank you Rianka. I'll try no to make the world wait too long.

Rianka: 00:40:15 Thank you. Thank you very much. So I want to jump back into your research. So you mentioned research helps you, um, bring in, um, just more concise responses, you know, this is, you know, the launch of the Doctor Loving show. Um, research has also shown us that from, from a decision making process or decision making concept that a set of diverse thoughts, fosters innovation and creativity through a greater variety of like problem-solving approaches. So a diverse set of people, a diverse set of genders, you know, diverse set of, um, ethnic backgrounds typically, or excuse me, the research has shown that diverse groups often outperform experts. So, and I know that some of the research that you're doing a sponsored by a Delaware investments, which I got a sneak peak of it and I hear that is going to be ready for the public here soon and I'll make sure to share that through 2050 TrailBlazers. But yeah, so let's, let's talk about that. And, and how, um, from the financial planning world this, this, this concept

Rianka: 00:41:34 of diversity, this concept of not only just gender diversity but racial diversity can help us from a cultural perspective

Ajamu: 00:41:47 The research your talking about is research I've done specifically for a presentation on um on diversity and much like the 2050 trailblazers podcast is really preparing financial services for what's going to happen when we have a majority minority country. Right? And so we are looking at the differences in the way that financial planning is going to have to behave to say to, to serve the clients that the future. And uh, so we started talking about diversity and I think people think of it from a, how do I not get sued type of way, right? That's the first thing people think is OK, I want to make sure that I don't say the wrong thing. And a Mckinsey did a study that shows, and this is a global study and looks at, a performance in terms of, uh, in terms of revenue, um, by country all over the world.

Ajamu: 00:42:47 And they also look at the diversity of the, uh, executive suite and the boards of directors and what they've found is that there is a strong correlation between a top performers and a board and executive diversity. And um, there is also a strong correlation between the lack of diversity and bottom core tile, a performance and so it. And so then you start to break down, OK, what are some of the reasons for this? And I think that your, your discussion of, Hey, these are the diverse problem solving skill sets jump into play there in terms of how to approach problems in, in a different and novel way comes in part from having people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Usually what you're going to have there is the, especially when you're talking about approaching the problems associated with, with an increasingly diverse country like the United States, that's going to involve having people with different ethnic in, um, and social backgrounds in leveraging that so that just having that, but also encouraging those diverse perspectives and making sure that everyone feels welcome at the table and everyone has input and can be heard.

Ajamu: 00:44:10 And so on the positive side, you can see how that can correlate with performance. I think the most recent issues, as you know, with starbucks and the, uh, the, the gentlemen that were, um, that were basically arrested for having coffee by someone because of someone calling the police who was just uncomfortable with their presence. They call it the police. Two minutes after the gentlemen walked into the restaurant. I think it just shows, OK, not only is there the carrot, the positive things that could sort of happen if you're doing the right thing in terms of diversity and everybody's looking in the right direction. We also got to recognize that there's a negative things that can happen when people don't embrace it or you don't have the type of structure that makes sure that people can't trample all over the rights of other individuals, you know, this is going to be an expensive lesson.

Ajamu: 00:45:01 It's already an expensive lesson for starbucks in terms of what they pay the guys and then the fact that they're going to be closed on May 29th. This is an extraordinarily expensive lesson and they're taking it seriously, which is important, but we need to. We need to make sure that we are prepared to take our own issues seriously within our profession and sort of meetings, meet things head on and be proactive because that's what we always preach as financial planners. Let's be proactive. Let's not wait till the last minute. Let's not wait until bad things happen. Let's do a little bit at a time so you don't have to try to do everything all at once. Yes. What, you know, 2050 seems like it's a long way away, but 30 years go by quickly, it's one of the things I've noticed as I've gotten older as the time passes more swiftly than we think while we're young, it's, it's important to start and start laying the foundation and doing things like the things that you're doing, uh, and start embracing some of the strategies that the CFP board are starting to embrace and as we look forward and we will work harder towards issue.

Ajamu: 00:46:15 It's not going to, it's not going to be us trying to right the ship and do everything all at once. Um, once we figured out that we're not serving the US, which, you know, we think it's a fear question is whether or not we are really doing what we could be doing as, as an industry to make America great. Sorry. OK.

Rianka: 00:46:50 And we're going to keep that in there, Ajamu.

Rianka: 00:46:50 I'm crying. Oh my goodness, Ajamu. Ok. You couldn't hold back.

Ajamu: 00:47:06 OK, I didn't see, I didn't see the sentence going that direction, till it had already gone there but it was, I was already, I was already here, sorry about that.

Rianka: 00:47:21 But, just like you said, uh, and, and what you were mentioning before, and I just want to caveat this really quick because I don't want your important message

Rianka: 00:47:31 to be, um, the distraction of the, yes the two gentlemen went into starbucks. They ask to use the restroom and they said, Eh, I don't know, like I wasn't there, but you know, they say it's only for paying customers. He went to go sit down waiting for his, you know, partner to come because they were about to have a business meeting. So that's what happened. They didn't get coffee first. So I don't want the, that antidote to be a distraction of what you actually said, which is more important that the situation was actually handled um, pretty bad. Ah, and there was actually a customer, or excuse me, a patron that was in the restroom who didn't purchase anything, but he was not a person of color and he was given the code. Um, and that was the point. And starbucks is taking the situation very seriously, closing, you know, all the starbucks down. And then I saw some, uh, some responses saying, oh, it's just one day and I'm like, let's look at the positive side of this. They're noticing that there is just unconscious racial bias in this world period. And though we probably can't change the world, we're going to make sure our employees are made aware and we're going to have some training.

Ajamu: 00:48:54 People are under estimating the potential impact of this because you can have one person who has that viewpoint, Oh, we ought to call the police. But if somebody else in that restaurant, one of the other workers said, hey, let's give, let's give it a rest. Let's wait a minute. Let's see, um, things develop. Let's take a breath here. And not be so reactionary. So the starbucks recognizes what's important is that it's not, it's not that we can prevent the appearance of one radical racist person that's willing to do the wrong thing, no no no what you're creating is an overall awareness so that there are some other people who can step in and do the right thing and make it awkward for the person who wants to do the wrong thing. And so if you have that environment, that's what, that's what's going to count and what's going to change things where people don't feel overrun by one person who's, who's willing to overlook the humanity of other people.

Ajamu: 00:49:54 They are willing to stand up for the humanity of other people. They feel empowered by the, uh, by the overall corporation and corporate culture to do so. So now that makes it sound like, Oh wow, this is a much more important thing that they're doing it. And that's precisely what it is. And that's why they're willing to spend so much money on it and an entire day doing it is because it's an important thing to do in that they can prevent things like this from, from escalating and moving in the direction that this, uh, this particular event moved in by having a group of employees that knows how knows how to treat people and feels empowered to do the right thing.

Rianka: 00:50:34 You made a good point as far as with our clients and, and wanting to be a proactive with our clients and always making sure we are thinking a 10 steps ahead and answering that fifth question that we know that they're gonna ask us. And so we're, we're very proactive. We preach proactivity in the financial planning space and a risk management and making sure we're diverse for the what if's, right? That may come into the future. But are we doing a good job with that in our own in our own household. And when I say household and our own organizations with, with our family. Because believable, because believer or not our coworkers, they're are family. We spend more time with our coworkers than our own family. Unless you have a different work schedule than I do.

Rianka: 00:51:23 We spend more time with our coworkers, our peers, our colleagues than our own family. So are we, or what can we do from that proactive standpoint of, of making everyone feel, feel welcomed because let me just share some things that just like you say, Ajamu, the world is moving to being more diverse. We have immigrants that are coming into America. We, so it is increasing, you know, the different type of culture. Uh, most people are coming, being bilingual or trilingual. We have traditional families. Then we have non-traditional families. We have blended families it's an, I used to say a beautiful melting pot until I, I, um, was on a webinar recently with the XY Planning network. They have a diversity committee that meets on a quarterly basis and they bring in speakers and presenters who speak about diversity and how to be a diversity ally.

Rianka: 00:52:29 And it was a really good conversation. However, he said, instead of saying a beautiful melting pot, say mosaic, you know, it just, I guess it sounds nice and instead of just putting all of us in a pot and, you know, a big old witch, and just stirring it, and I was like ok, I can get with that and. OK, so we're not a beautiful melting pot anymore. We're a beautiful mosaic. Alright I'm with it. So that's where America is moving to this beautiful mosaic. In order for the financial planning profession to continue to grow and thrive, and this is Rianka Dorsainvil's personal perspective, and who, and other people may, a lot of other people may share this perspective as well. We have to become more diverse because we have to meet our clients where they are and if we don't have these cultural backgrounds or these different upbringings and um, you know, from

Rianka: 00:53:26 various socioeconomic backgrounds or being bilingual and knowing how to speak multiple languages, can we serve our clients?

Ajamu: 00:53:39 Short answer is no, we can't, but my. My answer in terms of how we're doing it as an industry and profession in terms of moving towards these things. I say we were evolving. We have a lot of room, we've got a lot of room for growth. We've done a lot of room for growth. Maybe just that's what I. that's what I tell my students when they get a D, we've got room for improvement, right? It's an inspirational thing. Like it sounds terrible when you say you get, you got and F or you're failing we've got room for improvement, we have the ability to improve and I think that's the part that people need to hear is that we and we have some of the structures that are out there that are starting in order to facilitate that improvement so we just have to buy into the most positively influenced those and start using those tools that we have the same way that our clients need to use the investment insurance and the insurance tools that we put in front of them to get them going.

Ajamu: 00:54:40 So some of the encouraging things that we see out there with some of the industries, excuse me, some of the, uh, the companies in the industry that are trying to actively be the person when you put this topic of diversity out there are really this part of the reason that I've put together this presentation is that there's a lot of demand for it that's been talked about before. And so now we we're answering that demand and making sure that people understand that this, this as a topic and as an and more important than just the topic, but also the strategy that you're going to use to implement a diversity strategy within your company features prominently as a conclusion of that topic. OK? So it's not just what about it, it's what to do about it. OK. So that's important. Um, in terms of the individuals, and I think this is where we have some of the biggest room for improvement.

Ajamu: 00:55:33 If you ask a financial advisors whether they think that they're losing out by not having diversity or if they think that there's a lot to gain by working with minority groups we're not getting the answers that we'd like to see. And so I think the more that we put the opportunity out there, and that's a part of the presentation, is just showing the opportunity that exists within these, um, these growing minority groups and, um, and economically increasingly a economically viable groups. The opportunity that's there is tremendous. And so we need to recognize it and embrace it in the more of us as individuals that respect the importance of being inclusive in our own personal ways of, uh, of operating. The better our industry is going to get, especially with, we have some of that buy in at the top and we have the structure to make diversity happen. So we, we have all of the elements that are there. We just need to make positive choices and start, uh, start embracing it and really getting a hold of it. And so I like our chances, I like our chances going forward. You know, I think we think we've got, um,

Ajamu: 00:56:47 we especially, I think we stand out even better than other professions as a group of people who recognize that it's not about us. We are able to put the needs of others first. Well that's great. That's the first step in being able, I think to, to exhibit that real empathy that's necessary for us to grow in a, in a diverse way that is, that is fair and practical and gives America the best chance for financial success within our individual families that are out there.

Rianka: 00:57:29 I 100% agree with you, and Cy Richardson who's the vice president of the National Urban League who was on our very first official 2050 trailblazers episode and you know, I asked him about, you know, what, what other professions, what other industries are doing it better than we can mimic after, you know, just take some best practices. And he said, well Rianka, I have to give it to the financial planning world that you guys are actually being intentional about doing something about it. Especially with the center for financial planning. And they have a whole diversity advisory group, which he is the chair of and I am very fortunate to be, uh, you know, a member of that group. Um, so yeah, I do give us credit. I do give us credit as far as, you know, what we're doing. We're being very intentional about it. But just like you said, Ajamu, majority of financial advisors and majority,

Rianka: 00:58:23 majority of the financial advisors say that, you know, diversity or working with a, a group of diverse clients is not something that they feel is important or will increase the bottom line if I can say it in layman's terms. Um, and, but to, to kind of counter that point, um, you know, just doing my research. Uh, and, you know, is it Nielsen? If I can counter that and uh, you know, just do a, my research and reading up on Nielsen data always put out really great research. The senior vice president, Andrew Mccaskill, I believe is his name. He mentioned that a 43 percent of the 75,000,000 millennials in the United States identify as African American, Hispanic, or Asian. And if your brand doesn't have or represent a multicultural strategy, it doesn't have a growth strategy.

Ajamu: 00:59:28 I think that that's, he said it perfect. You know, he's, he's a Morehouse man. I used to cut Andrew's hair, in college. Oh yeah, he's my boy. There is a, there was a picture that includes, uh, both him and I in it and some of our other friends from my freshman year at Morehouse. And uh, in that picture I'm wearing a haring bone necklace, so there's that, that let's you know how long we've been friends. But Andrew is, is uh, right on target with this. And I used some of his, some of his, a Nielsen Research in my presentation, but he's absolutely right. If we're going to be forward looking as a profession, we have to recognize the opportunities that are out there all around us. And so, you know, it's funny, man, people I've never seen a person go to an ethnic restaurant like a to a soul food restaurant they don't, people don't necessarily know if you've never been to one how great that's going to go in to be. Take the person there and they were licking their finger so hard you think they might bite one off, right? That's the issue is that, we don't know what we we're missing until we get out there mixed with the mixed with the people that find out, Oh, there's seasoned salt. It's a whole different type of salt.

Rianka: 01:00:44 Speaking of food, which I think going back to, uh, your analogy with Dr Oz and making things very relatable. So I am, um, you know, I am African American and Hispanic. However, I grew up, with my African American side. I just recently found my

Rianka: 01:01:04 other half of my family, uh, last year. Um, so again, I'm not being interviewed, so that's not a part of this story. However. So I grew up African American. Uh, my husband who I met in high school is Haitian. Everyone looks black, but everybody is not from the same culture. You know what I'm saying? Like, you know, just, just looking at us, it's like, oh, they're they're, they're black. And it's like, no, I'm bi-racial. My husband, he's Haitian. And going back to food, that was the first time I've ever been introduced to anything outside of like soul food

Rianka: 01:01:42 just that Haitian cuisine. And I kid you not and and that was high school and we've been together ever since, I don't know if it's because of the

Rianka: 01:01:57 so going back to like, you don't know what you're missing until you try it. Like you don't know the type of individuals, the type of the type of perspective that you're missing out on that your company is missing out on because you never gave them an opportunity.

Ajamu: 01:02:16 You said it perfectly. I think people can relate food really well. And, and those spices and those ways of doing things, that's what makes us rich. It, you know, that's the mosaic. I'll always say I figured, well, this is a Gumbo, right? You can taste each of the individual ingredients you wouldn't cook Gumbo down to. It was just one, nothing where you couldn't taste all the, you know, all of the individual vegetables and spices and all that. That's what makes us special. So it makes it gumbo, that's what makes it great. And so, um, the, that that's what we are and that's the opportunity that we are. But we can't afford to just be leaving out whole spices and whole parts of the recipe that would make it otherwise successful.

Rianka: 01:03:03 Here on 2050 TrailBlazers, we are truly sparking conversation. So much so that people now are starting to tweet me and ask me questions like, well, what can I do this, this, this word of ally-ship? Or, or how can, how can I be an ally? Um, to, to someone who doesn't look like me and majority, it's white men and white women who are reaching out to me, which I shouldn't say I'm surprised because

Rianka: 01:03:33 I always see the good. And so the financial planning profession, it just, like you said before, this is the profession to test the boundaries when it comes to the conversation around culture, diversity and inclusion. And so here are people reaching out to me saying, Rianka, I hear you. I want to help. Um, but how. And so, going back to a very specific question, this, this a person who's a financial planner, she listened to the episode with Nandita and her students and talking about how irrespectful of how the students feel the discomfort that they feel being the only person that looks like them in, in these conferences. They always make the person sitting across from them feel comfortable. And so she asked me, you know, what could he and, and, and I'm quoting now, she said the anecdote about the conference and the white man sitting at the table, what could he and all of us white folks more generally do to be more transparent in his and our willingness to collaborate. So it's like, what can you know is this term of ally-ship and being an ally. So I think our profession, and this is the reason why I love our profession, I, I feel, uh, feel like there's a lot of people who want to help, who just doesn't know how to, or is it offensive to ask these type of questions. And I think

Rianka: 01:05:03 this is one of the professions that you don't, have to worry about offending us because we know or we hope you are coming from a position of wanting to learn.

Ajamu: 01:05:19 I think that, um, by and large, you have a group of people in financial services, professionals, financial planners that are outgoing and well meaning. And so I think that your questions can be received, um, received well. Then you shouldn't be so apprehensive about asking them. I think that you always, you always need to start with, with yourself and your intentions, but then also try to get out of your own way and in the way that I see is the best way to try to get out of your own way is to try to think about others. I think I've told you about how my dad described financial planning service and the importance of service. And um, you know, when you think about the client and not yourself, you're going to be able to know the client better, give them better, a better service, give them better advice and you're going to have better outcomes because of it.

Ajamu: 01:06:18 And once you do that, you're going to be a financially successful. It will sort of take care of itself. So I think that that's the first step is, is all right, let's take a breath here. Recognize that the way in which we've typically seen financial planning and financial planners of the past, it's not an inclusive one. Right? And so when you're sitting across from someone in the same way that you'd be curious about a client, I think you should be curious about that person. You should be sensitive to that person when you're talking with them to find out about them. And you always try to lead the dance and take it in the direction that you wanted to go. You need to. You need to find out the way that what it is that the client wants. And again, I think we're, we're used to this, that we have this skill set.

Ajamu: 01:07:07 All right, and so we can, we can do this. We just need to make sure that that's what we're trying to do so that the students who are the ones who were feeling uncomfortable in Dr Das' situation, um, you know, if you are one of those people who really does want to help you be the one that treats them like a client instead of them treating you like a client, right? So I think, that's the thing that you need to do if you want to help. You want to treat, you want to treat them the way you treat the client. You want to treat this situation the way that you treat a client scenario and think about how you'd be proactive in solving it. It working towards what it is that we want to accomplish, a more inclusive financial services profession that is really servicing the needs of our evolving and developing country as it, as it's growing.

Ajamu: 01:08:00 And so, um, the, you, you have to be a servant to, to do that. We're used to being servants. Talk about how, uh, my, my dad's, one of his first clients, um, asked him, he was already agreeing to, to meet this person at their house, so he meets with a lot of clients that they're at their home and he, you know, he had all this licensure and you know, he's one of the people admire as a hero and one of the first stories he told me was about how a client gave him a shopping list. The uh, she wanted to, she wanted them to bring this thing, these things with him to their first meeting at her house. OK. And I was thinking, man, a grocery list, a grocery list she needed, she needed a milk, she needed bread, she'd need eggs.

Ajamu: 01:08:48 And like, OK, so you guys going to make French toast on your first meeting, I guess, and so I said, so what did you do it? But he's never met her before. He never met her. He was, she was a referral through another client that needs something that I went there, I went to the grocery store and when he's from Chicago he went to, he said I went to jewel and I picked it up on the way to her house and picked it up. He said, yeah, I picked up the milk bread and eggs I got there, and in Chicago there are a lot of, a lot of, uh, three or four flat apartment buildings. And so you have to ring the buzzer to get in, you get in, and then there's another little door and that buzzer's still going off in there and you can walk upstairs if you need to get in there.

Ajamu: 01:09:27 And he said, yeah man. I rang the buzzer, and I got there and realized she was on the third floor. So I got groceries, you know. And then back in those days, in the eighties, they did everything by paper, he's got his briefcase, he's got her groceries, she's on the third floor. So he's walking, he said man, that right there, so that was a little disappointing. I said you are better than me. I'm not sure that i would have done all this. Anyway, he said he walks up all the way through to the third floor with his briefcase and all his papers and milk, bread, groceries. Yes. And he said when she, uh, you know, he knocked on the door and she opened it. When she opened the door, she was in a wheelchair. Yeah. And so I think, um, as a profession, you know, and he's not the only one who's had these types of experiences of meeting clients going that extra step to, to meet their needs.

Ajamu: 01:10:30 And see to, to what it is that they have, even when sometimes, when it feels and seems unreasonable, but then you see at the end, why it was worth it to do it, why it was the right thing to do. How it's, how it's helping and transforming someone's life. We are literally changing and saving people's lives through high quality financial decision making. Right? And so if we, if we can recognize that, um, that level of service in our, in our professional side of things, and we can translate that to our efforts with respect to diversity. I have all the confidence in the world that we're going to be as a profession ready to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse America that moves forward, but we need to be, we have to continue to be intentional about it in some ways and in some ways we need to start being intentional where we haven't been.

Rianka: 01:11:23 That was a, that is an awesome story. And thank you for sharing that. Yeah.

Rianka: 01:11:30 And just a story of showing true servitude and that's what our profession is about. And if we can just, you know, um, I always say we need to start meeting clients where they are, right? Whether from a social economic background standpoint, the education level when it comes to personal finances, their fears, whether it's the fear of the stock market or the various things. And I love how you put it, Ajamu. I would love for us to start meeting our colleagues and our peers where they are as well and understanding that, um, we all have different backgrounds. And when you go into a room where you see someone who is the only one who looks like them, just know that there is, there is a level of discomfort and you can be that person that walks up to them and just say, Hey, my name is such and such and I'm so happy that you're here.

Ajamu: 01:12:46 I agree completely, maybe it's a unique quality of mine, but I recognize in the lives of people, sometimes they haven't been smiled at all day, and sometimes just smiling at a person waving and saying Hi, like he said, introducing yourself. You don't know how that lifts people up when they've been told no a thousand times in their career. And they get to a conference where they feel like they don't belong. Right? You can be that yes, you can be that yes right there in, in the, uh, in the financial services conference. You can be that yes that keeps them going, right? That yes, that smile, that introduction, people need that. People love that. And when you can do that to other people, you'll be surprised how often they'll be people who will come around and be able to do it for you. We can create an environment of just contagious positivity where we are really, uh, improving the lives of one another and I think that's why we're put on this earth in concert with one another to make each other's lives better.

Rianka: 01:13:38 And I'm smiling right now. So thank you. Ajamu and I appreciate, um, you know, just the insights that you have shared with us and um, I am sure this is one of many conversations that we will have here on 2050 TrailBlazers together. But before you go, I have one more question. As you look back on your career journey, what are some of the ways that you have invested in yourself, either personally or professionally that has supported your growth as a person?

Ajamu: 01:14:10 Good question. Um, I think in terms of investing in myself, part of that happened in high school. Um, I was in the theater program in school and so I, I did acting, um, uh, did, uh, eh in actual contest plays and group interpretations and original comedy and I think a lot of that work that I did in terms of being able to a relate to large groups of people and express myself has made me, uh, made me a better professional it's made me a better communicator and um, when I'm in when I was in front of clients or in a, in front of large groups of people. I think that that has helped me tremendously. Um, the other thing that I think is, has helped me in general is a having a willingness to, to read and learn new things. And so, um, the, the Journal of Financial Planning, Financial Services Review, um, any of these sort of a journals and magazines that are looking to financial planning ideas and techniques.

Ajamu: 01:15:22 I'm always looking for new ways to, um, to improve the education that I'm, that I'm trying to relate to students by looking at new ideas that are out there. So you have to be willing to immerse yourself in some of those new things that are out there so that you can be an effective teacher. And I think that as a financial planner, you owe it to yourself to always be of be reading and growing. So always be reading a book. Always, be you know, open to new ideas that are out there, at least learning about what people think about those things. And then you won't be stagnant in, uh, in your, uh, your life as a professional. And I think that number one thing there that I think you have to recognize, and there isn't necessarily a bunch of different resources out here for this is just a way of thinking, is that if you can approach everything, recognizing that people are more important than things that you will, you'll, it's much easier to, to prioritize. So if you walk into every client engagement meeting, everything that you're doing in terms of, in terms of growth, uh, being people first and your mindset, I think that, uh, I think that you're, you're more likely to be successful and happy and definitely more likely to approach things with a heart of servitude. That's, I think that's when people really get the most out of our interactions and working together.

Rianka: 01:16:41 That is a wonderful way to conclude our conversation. Thank you so much Ajamu, thank you so much for sharing your insight, your, your personal stories are your mentors and um, and your research with us. I'll be more than happy to share any research that you have in our show notes. So, um, send it my way and for the listeners, if you're interested in learning more about the research that Dr Loving show or anything that Ajamu is doing, I'll, I'll be sure to leave all of his information in the show notes.

Ajamu: 01:16:41 Thank you so much for having me.

Rianka: 01:17:17 It was such a pleasure. Thank you so much, Ajamu


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