A NYT bestselling author, Nicole Lapin is recognized as the only finance expert that doesn’t require a dictionary to understand. She hosts the CW’s new business competition reality show Hatched and recently launched her second book, Boss Bitch that empowers women to be the boss of their lives and careers.
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- Own your life and figure out the life you want, then work backwards from there.
- In all that you do, never lose yourself.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:21] – Nicole grew up in an immigrant household where they didn’t talk about business
- [01:38] – Nicole got a job at 18
- [01:48] – She was thrown into the deep-end when she said she loved business news
- [01:52] – Nicole went to the school of hard knocks
- [02:05] – When she learned finance, she went to CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg
- [02:25] – Nicole was on EOFire Episode 889
- [03:20] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Nicole’s niche is figuring out how to democratize financial content. Her approach is really unconventional – nothing is gospel
- [04:26] – Think about what’s best for you
- [05:32] – Nicole’s youth was one of her biggest assets
- [06:40] – The American Dream needs to be re-evaluated
- [07:13] – Being a “boss bitch” is a great thing
- [08:03] – “You can’t be all things to all people”
- [08:43] – Nicole took the risk of finding her niche and it resonated with her
- [09:26] – Nicole is owning the boss mentality
- [10:33] – Run your life like a business
- [11:22] – Reverse engineer from the goals you have
- [11:38] – Figure out the life you want
- [12:25] – Nicole froze her egg cells 2 years ago
- [13:32] – Think about how to talk like a boss
- [14:05] – Come from a place of confidence
- [15:19] – Deflection comes from a place of weakness
- [15:54] – People tend to cling on negative feedback
- [16:51] – Being empathetic is something you should be mindful of
- [17:19] – The words you say come from the “boss mentality”
- [18:10] – If you try to do too much, you’re not doing anything well
- [18:27] – Say “Thank You” more often
- [18:44] – Have a side hustle, even if you’re working 9-5
- [19:34] – Most businesses fail
- [21:10] – Make money, lose money – without losing yourself
- [22:05] – You don’t need equity in the beginning
- [23:46] – Negotiate EVERYTHING in your life
- [24:54] – Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Twitter
Nicole: Am I prepared, let’s do this.
John: Yes. A New York Times bestselling author, Nicole is recognized as the only finance expert that doesn’t require a dictionary to understand. She hosts the CAMPUS’s new business competition reality show called Hatched, and recently launched her second book, Boss Bitch that empowers women to be the boss of their lives and careers. Nicole, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life?
Nicole: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, so what you don’t hear from that intro, and it was so fabulous John, I kind of want to hang out with you every single day, so thank you. I feel so much better about my life. I grew up in an immigrant household, first generation American, and never talked about business or finance or anything. And the truth is I'm the least likely person to become a financial expert.
I grew up in a pretty broken home, needed to start working early on, just need a job, like a J-O-B, and I got one in business on the floor of Chicago MERC when I was 18. And I totally lied and said that I loved business news. And I had no idea what I was talking about and I was thrown into the deep end. So I didn't get my MBA. I didn't work at a bank. I just went to the school of hard knocks. And I always say, if I could do it, anyone can seriously do it. It’s a language just like anything else.
I just didn't have a Rosetta Stone, and nobody does. We don’t learn this stuff in school. So once I was able to speak the language, I then spoke it to the world. I went on to CNN, and CNBC, and Bloomberg, and fancy business networks. And I never would have imagined a decade later now I'm helping my former self, that girl who was totally clueless and smiling and nodding and not joining the conversation, actually speak the language, too.
John: Well, Nicole, you were on episode 889 of EOFire.
Nicole: It's the best episode ever.
John: Literally. Well, maybe second best, we’ll see how this one goes, right?
John: I mean, we got to give this one a chance. And 800 episodes later literally, you're back on for episode 1,682. So we've been hard at work. You’ve been hard at work. And Fire Nation, if you want to hear Nicole’s story, meaning like her worst entrepreneurial moments, the ah-ha moment that made it all happen, and of course she crushed the lighting round, just go back to eofire.com, type in Nicole in the search bar. That episode was epic.
But Nicole, since then you’ve done a lot of great things, we've mentioned a few of them, like the business competition reality show Hatched, and some other things have gone on, but what would you say just through it all is your area of expertise, kind of break that down for us, but then give us one thing that we probably don’t know about your area of expertise that as entrepreneurs we should?
Nicole: So my niche is sort of figuring out how to democratize financial content to the audience that actually needs it most. So when I was on these fancy for mentioned business networks, I was talking to a bunch of old rick white dudes, and that's not editorializing John, that's just what the Neilson Ratings show.
Nicole: And I felt like there was a void in the market for not only a sassier voice, but I am the first business or finance book that swears, thank you very much, of my claim to infamy, I guess. And so what you might not realize off the bat is that I come to the conversation really in an unconventional way. So I have rethought conventional financial wisdom, and thought for myself, and now I help others do the same. You know, we've heard time and again, don’t buy a latte, buy a house, that's your ticket to financial freedom.
And I'm like oh, my God, buy a latte, rent a house perhaps. I don't know what might be right for you. Don’t listen to me 100 percent, nothing is gospel. And it's really ant thinking about what's best for you, and not taking anything as tried and true. And I think buying a latte for example, helps you stay on track, and helps you from binging later on in the same way as a diet. If you give yourself a Hershey’s Kiss, you won't end up binging on a big old hunk of chocolate cake later on.
This is the same thing as the small indulgences. So that's why you said, you know, you don't need a dictionary to understand me, because this is just how I talk. I don’t try to talk in jargon. I don’t try to be somebody I'm not. I had imposter syndrome in my early career. And I think a lot of women in particular do, like we don’t feel like we belong at certain jobs. And we think somebody is going to find us out, and then you become comfortable in your skin, and that's what I have done.
I went from having to wear shoulder pads and teasing my hair, and trying to be older, or wiser. I started at CNN when I was 21. And what I realized later on is that my youth was actually one of my biggest assets, and it was the thing I tried to hide the most. So it's a journey f fall of us. And I just am who I am. You either love me or hate me, and I've learned to give zero amounts of –
Nicole: F’s about it. And that's what I hope for other people as well.
John: Well, personally I love you, Nicole. And you definitely have the sass, like you make it happen. And we're not going down this rabbit hole because I know that wasn’t the reason why you brought this up, but just even quickly to your point about don't buy a latte, buy a house, and don't listen to me either Fire Nation, but why are we still trying to live in this world of like the perfect 1950s Wonder Years style, when you wanted to have this cookie cutter house on a cookie cutter street, and like that was the one dream.
We just live in a different world, where we can be digital nomads. We can live wherever. We can go and rent an Airbnb in San Francisco for three months, and then try Chicago, and then do it in Florida, and not be anchored down by this quote, unquote mortgage, when we can just rent our face off until we really do get old and slow and want to settle down. I mean, this quote, unquote American dream, and again this is for another time, another story, it needs to be reevaluated in a lot of ways.
And that's something that I know you address a lot Nicole in your books, is we just need to challenge the status quo. Like, why are these old white dudes giving all the advice, like where is the millennials, where is the females, where is the Latinos, where is all the people that have real honest voices? And I think this is one thing that you really bring to heart in Boss Bitch, so let’s talk about that. What does that term exactly mean?
Nicole: Well, yes, here I am trying to fill all those voids. And being a Boss Bitch is not only a good thing, but a great thing. I take back the word and really own it as a badge of honor. I've been called the B word in a derogatory sum throughout my career. And what that meant was that I was strong, powerful, aggressive, ambitious, that not only did I want a seat at the table as a young woman, and yes, a millennial, but on the older end, but I wanted a voice at the table.
And if that meant I'm a bitch, then awesome. I'm a bitch and I own that as a badge of honor. And if you look now on social media, or Instagram, or whatever, and you can search hash tag my bitches, there are pictures of all best friends. And so I think right now it's used as a term of comradery and endearment. And for me I needed to know exactly who my audience is? And especially in media, as you know, you can't be all things to all people. If you're all things to all people, you're really nothing to no one.
And if I came out with a book that was like five steps to business freedom, like I would be dead on arrival, like are you kidding? And I just needed to take that risk and say: I know who she is. I'm not trying to reach a massive audience of everybody in the whole world, because everybody does need financial help, but I wanted to tailor it and make her my evangelist. And it's resonated.
I mean, I'm back again 800 episodes later, which is so awesome. You are so rad. Because, you know, I know took that risk, but it ended up resonating, and I ended up doing really well.
John: It really did end up resonating with a lot of people. And I just love how you're just continuing down that theme. You found your voice. You're not trying to make everybody fall in love with you. Like I say, when people try to go broad, it's like they're just trying to go a mile wide and an inch deep, so they can cover all the different areas. But guess what, that inch deep is not making an indentation anywhere. It's the people that just realize: hey, what if I just go one inch wide, one mile deep, and just crush that.
Have my voice get heard by people who care, and then move forward from that direction. And that can grow to something bigger, but you're never going to grow screaming into the wind trying to speak to everybody, when everybody is doing the exact same thing, just screaming into the wind. And for you Nicole, being the boss of you, what is owning the boss mentality anywhere you are, like what does that mean?
Nicole: I think we go through a lot of different stages in our career. So I've worked for bigger companies. I'm now working for myself. I could take time off and be a mompreneur, or the CEO of my household. And I think a lot of women in particular go through those stages in our career, and every permeation in between. And so the only thing that's really portable is being the boss of you, having that mentality, having that confidence. And I think now a career well had looks more like a rope swing then a career ladder.
Again, that's sort of your momma’s career advice or business advice, like climb up the corporate ladder or whatever. And I'm like no, no, no, this is not relevant right now. You know, we go through these different stages. By the way, a rope swing is way more fun, and the view is way more awesome, so embrace that. Now is there any difference about being the CEO of you, is that the same as being the boss of you?
Nicole: It is. It's running your life like a business. And so it's scheduling time for personal things, scheduling time for social media stuff. It's also, especially for women, this is not a thing for guys, it's taking control of your fruitility, it's taking control of your goals of your family life. Because as a women we go through our 30s, and we reach the stride in our career in a lot of sense, and that's also the time when our biological clock starts ticking.
And I think we would be remiss as powerful career women, who are super ambitious, to not take into account our family goals, because nothing is more time, money, and energy intensive, then having a kid. And I don’t care what you decide to do, but it's about figuring out what you do want to do, have kids, don’t have kids, I don’t care, just answer those questions for yourself, so you have more direction.
You know, I always think you should reverse engineer from the goal you have in your life. A lot of people say to me, “Oh, my God, Nicole, if I just had a million dollars, it would be so amazing.”
John: So amazing.
Nicole: Right. I'm like what do you want to do with that million dollars? Like, maybe you need more than a million dollars, I don't know, maybe you need less. But it's about figuring out the life you ant and then reverse engineering to figure out how to get the money and the direction to live the life you want.
John: Yeah, and again, not to go down another rabbit hole, but you mentioned the thing about fertility, and to be honest with you that actually applies to guys as well. I mean, I'm 37 years old now, no kids, still a question mark about if I want to go down that road or not. I haven’t yet, maybe I want to some day. I have a good college friend, we just went on a ski trip together. and he had to go through that process because he was 37 trying to go through having his first kid, and he had to face the reality that there weren’t as many swimmers as there used to be. And so you can look at that as a guy as well.
Nicole: That's interesting.
John: I know, yeah, it is interesting. I was like, wow. And honestly for the first time I was like: well, maybe I need to look into this, because I never even thought about that road.
Nicole: You should.
Nicole: You should. I froze my eggs two years ago, and I documented I ton Good Morning America and in Redbook, because I was like this is a crazy process and people need to know about this. And yeah, a lot of guys, especially when they're 40, they freeze their sperm and whatever.
Nicole: You know, I think these conversations are really silent sometimes. It's like, you know, it's personal life and work life. It’s like no, no, no, it's all gray area. Like, if you're not happy in one part of your life, you're not happy in general. And so it's driving me crazy that there's no other business book that talk about fertility or family planning, I mean, they're linked. And for me it was really important to have that conversation together.
John: Fire Nation, if you think this topic has been juicy so far, just stick around, because we're going to take a quick a minute to thank our sponsors, but we're not going to skip a beat. So Nicole, we are back. And I kind of want to talk about being the boss at work, so give us a little break down. How do we think like a boss, how do we talk like a boss, what's the deal?
Nicole: Again, in particular for women, but this applies to everybody. I am so tired of the I'm sorry all the time. I think there's an I'm sorry epidemic. And so I think it's about thinking about how to talk like a boss, which is an important thing in all aspects of your life. So we say I'm sorry for when people bump into us. Why are we sorry for that? We say I'm sorry for responding to an email a couple hours later.
Why is that worry of an apology? Studies have shown that men will apologize as well, but only when they actually do something wrong. I literally counted how many times I said I'm sorry during the day, and it was like 50. And then I started realizing, like what have I been sorry for? And it's really about coming from a place of confidence. So I also think it's important to say thank you more often, when we get compliments. Let’s say, okay, John, compliment my hair. I know you can't see it right now.
John: Your hair looks amazing by the way.
Nicole: Thanks, John. That's the answer, thank you. You know, a lot of times we go into like: well, it's so dirty, it looks terrible. I'm out of dry shampoo, like uh, but your hair looks amazing. Like, no, no, no, just say thank you and move on.
John: Well, let me ask you something on that topic, because this is something that I'm kind of curious about that I've started doing, and maybe you have thought on it, maybe you don’t, but I heard somebody do it, one of my mentors actually Shawn Stevens in with the Model Health Show. He’s just like this fitness stud, and he was my trainer for awhile. And whenever he would give me a compliment, I would do what you were just talking about. I would deflect a little bit, and that's never the right thing to do.
But then he said, “John, you need to receive compliments.” And don’t even just give necessarily like a quick thank you, because you don’t want to give that automatic like I love you, I love you, like it doesn’t mean anything. So he said really acknowledge the fact that people are giving you a compliment by saying: listen, like thank you, like I receive that. I appreciate that and it means a lot, and then you kind of move on. What are your thoughts on even being a little more kind of direct on that?
Nicole: 100 percent. I mean, that deflection comes from a place of weakness, and so yeah, absolutely. I think when you're apologizing, yes apologize. I start now counting how many times I say I'm sorry, and it spreadsheets less than ten, but it's really if I messed something up, otherwise when you get a compliment as well, you’ve done something great, and you can give compliments, too. And I think there's a quote that says like if you give somebody a compliment it lasts for a really long time.
I'm paraphrasing it. And we tend to cling on to the negative feedback. So when I was at CNN, I would read viewer emails. And I’d get a lot of awesome ones. And then I’d get like one negative feedback. And I would fixate on that, when it was just a small percentage of the whole shebang. And so for me, I've had to change my mind set. And not only has my career, but my boss mentality has followed.
John: One thing I have question on when it comes to sorry, and this is directly from my friend Jill Stanton of Screw the 9:00to 5:00. And she should always say this, and I would kind of like give a little smirk about it, because when I started saying it I was like: you know, I'm kind of making a game about this sorry thing. So like you bump into somebody, you’d be like, “Sorry, not sorry,” like in one sentence.
Because you're like saying, like, yeah, I know we usually say sorry here, but I'm really not sorry, so sorry, not sorry. Like, what are your thoughts about that as maybe kind of starting to bridge that gap towards not even just saying sorry all the time?
Nicole: Yeah, I think women in particular want to be empathetic, and have that feminine touch. And so I think it stems from a really good place, it's just, it's something we should be way more mindful of. And look, sorry, not sorry, I hashtag that all the time.
John: Oh, do you really?
Nicole: Yeah. I think that's an interesting place, that's being really unapologetic. And so I love that, that's more of a place of confidence. You know, all I'm trying to say is that even the words that come out of your mouth contribute to that boss mentality. I also think, and you probably know this, there's a well know business concept that if it's not a hell yes, it's a no.
John: Yeah, Derek Sivers.
Nicole: Yeah. And so this applies to our personal life, too. Like, dating for example, if it's a maybe for a dude, I mean in your case for a girl, like it's a, no. I mean, there should be no question about that. And when you get to a certain place in your career, you know you’ve gotten to this place, if you have projects that come in your email or whatever, come across your desk, I don't even know if you have a desk, it doesn’t really matter, but if I get offered projects, at this point in my career I'm really lucky, I wouldn’t say this when you're starting out, you have to do a lot of grunt work, and you have to say yes to a lot of stuff you don’t want to do, but at a certain point, if you try to do too much – again, this is about going – you know, the same idea as going to wide and not going deep.
If you try to do a bunch of stuff, you're not doing anything well. And so I think that litmus test is also really important. So it's about saying – so it's about not saying sorry. It's about saying thank you more often. And it's about saying no more often, too.
John: One thing I know that Fire Nation does dream of is finding their dream job, so what can you give us in that area?
Nicole: I think it's really important, especially when you have a 9:00 to 5:00 job to have a side hustle, and incubate that idea as you already have a steady paycheck, because as you know, starting a business is not all rainbows and butterflies. We see a bunch of cool entrepreneurs on the cover of Forbes or Fortune, or whatever flying around in G5s and you're like: I can start Facebook. I can start an Instagram or whatever.
And yes, it's easier now than even before to become an entrepreneur, which is awesome, but it's also easier now than ever before to become entrepreneur and everybody is trying to do it, and nobody really has a roadmap or a playbook. So I go through the less fun parts, but the necessary parts too, starting a corporation, getting your trademark stuff together. And, you know, again there's a lot of great perks, but if you keep – you have to keep it real, most businesses fail.
And so if you go into it mentally flying that G5 or whatever before you get off the ground, that's a recipe for terrible, like a terrible first year, and inevitably a bad business. And so I think if you have something that you’ve always wanted to do, let’s say you're at an accounting job or whatever. And you're doodling in your notebook cupcakes. And you're like oh, my God, if I could just start a cupcake shop this would be amazing. I would die a happy woman.
You know, you bake cupcakes for your friend son the weekends or whatever, and then you go and you start making that into like a side business. And then you go from just making them for your friends to making them to sell. And then you start having to source flour, and then you start needing to have a commercial kitchen. And then you need to the books for business, and be the janitor. And then it becomes more of a jobby than a hobby. And let’s say you hate it.
And then you're like I just wanted to make cupcakes, you know, that was the fun part. And then you got it out of your system and you realized sometimes it's just as important to figure out what you don’t want to do, as figuring out what you do want to do, because then you go back to work. And you're like awesome, I got this out of my system and I can now focus on being entrepreneurial within a bigger company, because you can do that, too.
And you can create brand within the confines of a bigger brand. If you find your sweet spot of the thing you want to do that also make sense with the company you're in.
John: More of a jobby than a hobby, Fire Nation absorb those words for sure. Nicole, how I want to kind of close this out, I love this phrase that you’ve used before. You know, it's about making money, losing money, but either way without losing yourself, how do we accomplish that?
Nicole: So I think it's really important to realize that you are your business. And so a lot of times when we don’t have real equity, we try to use sweat equity. And then you're just running yourself ragged. And so I think it sounds very Pollyanna-ish of me, and it's like, “Thanks, mom,” but it's really about taking care of yourself. And if you are sick, your business is going to be sick. And so if you run yourself to the ground, that's not helping anyone, because especially in the beginning, you're not going to have a lot employees and you shouldn’t, by the way.
And you should be really scrappy. This whole idea of I need to raise money and like give away equity, like that's bananas. I don't know why people have had this Shark Tank effect, or even my show, you don't need equity in the beginning. Like, that's just a proliferated idea of something that's like you don’t become the boss of you. You started your business to own it, and then you give away – you don’t realize you're giving away your company; you're giving away sort of the boss status if you do raise money.
So I think when you're first starting, you sort of need to wrap your head around that, and then have a good support system of folks that can pick you up when you're feeling terrible, because you will. And I don't sugar coat any of this. I have terrible days. I started a business I love, but not every day like I wake up jumping out of bed and being like, “Oh, my God this is amazing!”
John: I get to talk to Johnny Dumas today, this is wonderful.
Nicole: Well, that today I did, obviously.
Nicole: But this idea, and you probably have a lot of people on the show too, you know. I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer, but when you're like, “Follow your passion it’s going to be amazing, just burn your corporate bra, it's going to be so awesome.” Well, it's about like actually planning for that. If your family needs health insurance or whatever and you have a job, you're not going to have all these benefits when you're starting out.
And there's no shame in like working to feed your family. It’s about like really keeping it real before you go into something that you might have rose colored glasses with.
John: You're not being a Debbie Downer; you are being a dose of reality. And Fire Nation, I hope you understand that because this is the reality of the world that we live in. now Nicole, let’s end today on fire. So give us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye?
Nicole: Oh, my gosh it's over already?
John: So sad.
Nicole: I'm having separation anxiety already. I think it's really important to negotiate everything in your life. It's very zeitgeist to negotiate your salary. If you don’t ask, the answer is always, no. So in Boss Bitch I go through scripts to do just that. And in Rich Bitch I talked about negotiating your medical bills, your APR on your credit card. I don't know why people don’t do that, your cell phone bill and all sorts of stuff. I was just on Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray, and I did that for a couple of viewers, and we got a ton off their bills. It’s your money, you mind as well fight for it.
John: Like, was it like a live call on their show, like you had them go on speaker phone?
John: That's so cool.
Nicole: Yeah, you can check it out. I actually also – if you know what an IFB, it's like a little ear piece.
Nicole: This woman went to a cell phone store and I was in the car, and she had like a little hidden camera. And I was telling her what to say to the person at the cell phone store. And it's crazy, like also your credit cards and things like that, I lowered her interest rate. So again, it doesn’t work all the time, but you worked really hard for your money and the worst thing they can say, no.
John: Yeah. If you have to be carrying an APR, it mind as well be as low as possible.
Nicole: 100 percent. And yeah, you can check me out on the [email protected], on the Twitters, on everything. And I would be lying if I said I respond to everything, but my team does, and we try to answer all the questions, individual questions that people have.
John: Nicole Lapin is making happen, Fire Nation. And you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Nicole and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And head over to EOFire.com. And if you type Nicole in the search bar, that's N-I-C-O-L-E. You’ll get to hear this episode of course, but also episode 889, where she crushed it talking about her worst entrepreneurial moment, about her ah-ha moment. We talk about Rich Bitch there as well, and do some really cool things, so check that one out, too.
And of course check her out on all the Instagram, all the socials. And don’t forget the book Boss Bitch is available, so make sure it is in your bookshelves, on your bookshelves, in your Kindle, all of the above. And Nicole, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today, for that we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Nicole: I salute you back. I feel on fire!
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