S1:E8 | Inspired Wealth: Financial Leadership for the 21st Century

Guest Speaker(s): Aileen Miziolek, The Family Business Consulting Group
Host: John A. Warnick, Esq., Founder, Purposeful Planning Institute

 Today we’re discussing ways to guide families through the unique opportunities and challenges they face in the areas of inter-generational wealth transfer, business succession planning, estate planning and philanthropy. Aileen is co-author of Inspired Wealth, Financial Leadership for the 21st Century, a book that serves as a guide for making critical life choices about money to create a fulfilling life.

About Our Speaker

Aileen Miziolek brings a multi-disciplined and integrated approach to her work, including 20 years of experience in complex financial and estate planning for business-owning families. She holds the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA), Certified Coach (ACC), and Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) designations.

Leveraging this unique blend of knowledge and professional experience, Aileen is a tremendous resource to the families she works with. She helps families design and implement strategies and processes that help them flourish across generations, both from a commercial and a relationship perspective. Her clients span various industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, food service, real estate, land development and property management.

Aileen is particularly passionate about working with siblings to overcome relationship challenges and help them become good business partners. She often finds herself coaching them through conflict and relationship barriers and helps siblings learn to “gel together” as a team. Through her work, she has found that many families fall into communication patterns that undermine their relationships and business goals. Aileen’s focus on coaching the family as a system is highly engaging and provides the understanding, tools, and skills necessary to manage conflict, rebuild trust, and have difficult conversations in new ways.

Her family business roots stem from a family history in farming. As a young entrepreneur, she launched her first start-up with new venture capital at the age of 25 and sold her first business a few years later. She then became a District Manager for The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, where she saw the need for specialized planning for family business. Aileen has been involved with several businesses since then and has had many interesting and also some challenging life experiences that have instilled in her a sense of resilience, gratitude, and hope, which she generously shares with the families she works with.

JOHN A: Good day everyone. This is John A. Warnick, founder of the Purposeful Planning Institute. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to another module in the Purposeful Planning Podcast and it’s going to be our extreme delight and pleasure today to have Aileen Miziolek with us. And Aileen did I mispronounce your name? If I did, please correct me.

AILEEN: Miziolek. I know it’s a—

JOHN A: Miziolek. I assume is that a good Czech name? What is the background?

AILEEN: Polish background. Yeah.

JOHN A: Polish, okay. And Aileen serves currently as a consultant with the family business consulting group, FBCG, I believe the initials are. And she’s joined the Purposeful Planning Institute in the last six-nine months. And when I had the privilege of speaking to her the first time to do the new member orientation call (which I enjoyed doing), I really discovered what an incredibly talented, experienced individual she was. And something really sweet that came out of that is a few weeks after that conversation, a book showed up which I have just thoroughly enjoyed reading. And we’re going to be talking a lot about the book today. It’s called, “Inspired Wealth Financial Leadership for the 21st century.” And before we dive into some of these very timeless and valuable principles that you’ve captured in Inspired Wealth, could you share with us how it was that you came about to write this book? What was it that prompted you, sustained you, and what has been the kind of the after-effect of writing the book?

AILEEN: Well, first of all, thank you, John A. I’m so pleased to be on the podcast today and speaking to you. I thoroughly enjoyed our first conversation, and I’m excited to share this. I wrote Inspired Wealth… well, I became a financial planner after working with business owners at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business way back, and I have a background in political science and ran my own business, sold the business, and then started working for CFIB, which is a lobby organization for independent business owners. And the reason I wrote the book was because at that time, actually, a couple of things were happening. I was interviewing about 500 business owners a year. And when we started talking, I realized that they really weren’t doing a lot of planning. And I decided that I would become a financial planner to help them with their family businesses. And I realized that when I first became a financial planner, I realized that a lot of that was really about products, and about creating plans for people but basing them on selling products. And when I went for the first time to a financial planner years before then, I expected them to tell me what I needed to do, how I needed to change to create wealth. I never really got that from the planner I went to. And so it was interesting to me that when I became a planner at the very beginning, it felt like I was taking candy from kids because it was like, “Well, this is what you need to reach your goals.” But one of the things that shocked me is that they all had the same goals. The first goal was to retire at 55 years old at that time, to educate their kids, and to travel. And I thought how can everybody have the same goals? So I realized that they weren’t really doing a lot of work on their goals. At the same time, I recognize that my first husband and I — we’ve been divorced now for almost 20 years — have very different values around money. And I realize that it was difficult to build a foundation for a marriage and a relationship without having this understanding of each other’s values. And that the relationship really needed a stronger foundation. And that the values were a part of this, and we just really clashed around money. So I kind of put a few things together and decided that while the financial planning curriculum that existed (at that time anyway) was thorough, technically, it was missing a component about how to really create wealth, and where that comes from, and the importance of having a strong foundation in relationships with money and with individuals around us. And so the whole idea of a more holistic approach to financial planning became very interesting to me. And as I reached out to get help with this, I ran into my co-author, Janice Hughes, who was a coach. And the reason I went to see her was because she was also a chiropractor. And I recognized that with two small children, if I’m going to do this heavy lifting of creating a book on top of working and being a mom, I needed to make sure my own foundation was strong. So I went to a chiropractor, because I just intuitively thought I needed to strengthen myself.

JOHN A: And lo and behold, you found a co-author, in addition to getting adjusted.

AILEEN: Totally. We wrote the book mostly in chapters over two years. We wrote the book and shared ideas at a table in chapters in Brantford, Ontario. 

JOHN A: That’s a wonderful story. And I really think, as you told it, Aileen, this resonates powerfully with the PPI community because Purposeful Planning is really about bringing your heart and soul into the planning process in aligning our clients with their deepest, most-heartfelt goals, objectives, values. I think the title of the book, Inspired Wealth Financial Leadership For The 21st Century, there is something noble about the word inspired in conjunction with wealth. And I think as the book starts out, Aileen basically talks about the quest for inspired wealth. And there’s a graphic at the beginning of the book that reminds me of an image that I have often looked at, which is an image of three mountain peaks, and yours are more rounded in the book, mine are sharper, that doesn’t matter. But there is this kind of concept of a journey. A journey of self-discovery is what Aileen is leading us to. And I’m just going to read a quick quote and then ask you a question here. It starts out with, “We live in the most affluent society in human history, yet we lack the wisdom to use money intentionally to achieve our highest goals.” And if you could pound that in the ground and put a huge banner up, it speaks volumes about the ‘why’ behind you writing the book. But tell us more about the connection that you see between money and energy, or the vision that leads to energy?

AILEEN: Well, what’s interesting is that money is really a — and this is not my idea; there’s many ideas around this — it’s a construct that’s been created to facilitate relationships or exchange of value between people. So, for me, when I thought at that time about money, I likened it to energy, and I love that analogy because it gives us the ability to remember that money is neutral, that we bring ourselves and our history and our own experience to our journey with money, and how we make decisions about it. And we don’t necessarily learn how to make decisions that are focused on our own desires. And I think desire is a really important word that connects with energy. Because when you think about money as energy, I do believe that we attract money based on the value that we exchange. So to raise our own energy and be able to add more value to people, that sounds to me like a way to generate more income. It’s interesting, recently, Warren Buffett alluded to this when he said that, “The best way to fight inflation is to build your own skill set.” And I love that, because the other thing that I learned was, when I first went to that financial planner, again, I thought, “Why isn’t anybody telling me what I need to learn in order to really make more money? I needed to learn that as a young person, how do I actually create a life that I want and have enough money to do everything I need to do.” And so I love the analogy of money as energy, because it also is really important from a personal development perspective. I used an analogy of money as energy, it’s a currency. And that means a current. And so for example, if you have a lot of money and you have a lot of currency, and you put it through a small appliance, if it’s too much currency for a small appliance, it’ll blow the appliance apart. If you have a lot of money, you have to grow your capacity to deal with it. And so that speaks so loudly to me around personal development, and that part of the journey. And I find that when I was training as a financial planner, I learned some of the levers that we can pull and push to make our plans work. But nobody said how are you going to increase your ability to make more money if you want this. It was always, “Well, you have to sacrifice this.” It was a real fear-based kind of thing where sometimes financial planners can scare the bejesus out of people saying that they’ve got to make their life smaller in order to fit their budget. I never subscribed to that. It was like, “What is it that you desire and how do you grow into the person who can bring that into your life?”

JOHN A: I’d have to remark here that Inspired Wealth and what Aileen shares with this is very consistent with what Jim Grubman calls ‘Wealth 3.0.” We’re moving from a fear-based platform to the invitation of a more positive and holistic purposeful approach to wealth, money, and the creation of wealth. There’s a logical progression to the way these principles build on each other. So thanks to you and Janice Hughes for the beautiful way in which the book is laid out. But the second chapter is entitled, “The Truth Will Set You Free.” And that concept is drawn from Jesus Christ and one of his teachings. But I think you really do a wonderful job in this chapter of helping us understand, as you said earlier going back to Buffett, this learning and the growth, the self-development, coming into integrity with who we are is absolutely pivotal if we want to create an, in essence, true wealth, and then the most splendid vision of what true wealth might be. So tell us a little bit more about what you meant when you titled this chapter, “The Truth Shall Set You Free,” and what you were trying to teach us with this chapter.

AILEEN: Well actually the book is created in a way where each two chapters follow one of the principles or the steps in the financial planning process. So, Money Is Energy and the Truth Will Set You Free actually fit into the Collect The Data Process. And it’s incredible just to know where you’re starting from, and to be able to accept that. And I just came back from working with a family this morning and one of the things I find, as I coach families now, is how often they can’t align even on what is the right problem? What are the challenges that I have? And I think, whether it’s a family or an individual, what are the challenges that we have? What is actually true in our lives? Where are we starting from? I think it’s just so powerful because so many people are trying to get somewhere, but they don’t focus enough on where they are right now. And I think that is just a very important part of this that needs to be assessed. And it’s not only from a quantitative perspective, it’s also from a qualitative perspective. Again, I use this inspired balance sheet, which is just the qualitative and quantitative balance sheet, but looking at it, you can ask, “What skills do I have? What can I lever? What are some of the vices that I should learn to overcome? What is our unique identity? What is it that we can put out into the world that’s so important for the world to receive?” And so, it’s important for me to acknowledge, first of all, that I have this skill, or I can develop that skill, or have the desire even to develop. Desire is such an asset. Right?

JOHN A: It’s interesting that you said that highest and best. It immediately took me to a real estate appraisal, where the real estate appraiser finds the highest and best use of a property, not necessarily what is sitting on that property today depending on where it’s located and what’s surrounding it. But this idea of an inspired balance sheet, took me back to the J. Hughes, introduction of the family balance sheet. But this is kind of an individual inspired balance sheet that really searches, as you said, Aileen, for what’s my highest and best use, where can I best employ my capacities to have the most powerful impact that I would want to have. This is beautiful. I’m curious about the third principle, “Honor Who You Are.” Where does it fit into the financial planning process, the order that financial planners approach planning in?

AILEEN: Well, “Honor Who You Are” and the chapter after that is “You are a creator.” And that is all about setting goals. So we need to set goals from who we are authentically—our values. To your point, what’s the best use of me? I’ve asked myself that question my whole career. What’s the best use of me now? “Honor Who You Are” is making sure that we have authentic goals. Because remember, when I first started, I was telling you that everyone had the same goals. And that really struck me. It struck me so strongly, because I anticipated going to family since sitting at their kitchen table and them having great goals. And I realized people didn’t even think about it much. And after a couple has been married for 10 years, it’s like they don’t talk about it that much. And that’s where actually I decided that financial planning was a great process, but it was missing the integration of coaching skills. The skill set itself needed to be augmented with skills that help people use their internal compass to create meaningful goals for themselves.

JOHN A: I got to interject here. You’re now touching on something that I think really gets to the crux, the heart of what the PPI community is all about. Most — not all — but a very high percentage of the PPI community are multidisciplinary. They may have started here, but they’ve added this. But I think, this idea of a financial planner studying coaching, Aileen, please tell us just quickly because we’re about to run out of time, coaching became so important to you and your journey.

AILEEN: Huge. I’ll tell you why. I mean, I wrote the book, and then I had to live it. So honestly, I have lived every chapter of this book after I’ve written it. And it was the greatest surprise and mystery to me about how life works. But coaching, to me, started out with personal development coaching, and coaching individuals to help them believe in their unique abilities and actually take action to support them in their development. When I was doing financial plans, I would always ask, “What percentage can we set aside for your personal growth?” And I would help clients see the benefit of that. (I never made anybody do anything, but I help them see the benefit of that.) And what’s their plan B and Plan C because I wanted them to use their imagination in that. Imagine a life that’s different from what they have. We have such a bias to think that we’ll just continue on our trajectory. But sometimes trajectories take a leap and a turn and we need to get creative. And that builds resilience, that ability to look in many different ways to develop yourself. I will say that coaching has even grown to be more important to me after that. Once I started working with ultra-high networth families, and because a lot of ultra-high networth families made their money in family businesses. So I became interested in working with family businesses and became a business consultant. But coaching continued to be a big part of my work because I went from individual coaching to then systems coaching, coaching the family as a system. Because you can coach an individual and take them to a new place, and coach them up and teach them new skills and teach them how to envision something new. But then if you bring them back to a system that hasn’t changed, that becomes difficult for the whole system. So I learned the skill set around coaching the system to go from A to B together. And that to me has been a big part now of my family business consulting practice. I’m still coaching individuals in those systems but more and more bringing the team coaching and alliance tools to families.

JOHN A: Aileen, this has been extremely positive. And we only covered four of the 12 chapters in Inspired Wealth. I’d love to invite you to come back and we’ll finish this conversation and get through the rest of the principles. But I also love the good news that you shared with me earlier about the availability of Inspired Wealth, so give a little shout out to your daughter and explain how people can get the book.

AILEEN: Well it’s now on Amazon because I have hired my daughter to come and assist me in helping get the last of these copies out because I’d like to write something new. And I promised myself that I wanted to get the book that I have now before I started to write the next one.

JOHN A: Cool. So I can hear the race to Amazon as podcast listeners are heading out to Inspired Wealth Financial Leadership For The 21st Century. Our guest today was Aileen Miziolek. And we’re so grateful Aileen is a part of our community, and grateful for her wisdom and her purposeful journey that she’s still on. And we wish everybody a very pleasant day and happy trails.  

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