E24: Introducing the What's Next Series | Cheryl Fields - Lifestyle Wealth Group





Introducing the "What's Next Series," a new monthly segment of the Succession Stories Podcast spotlighting transitions. Succession - in business and in life - is about transitions and how you embrace "what's next" matters. For many people, transitions are fueled by financial security. Laurie Barkman talks with Cheryl Fields, an entrepreneur who unexpectedly restarted her career at age 47 and found her life's passion as a financial educator.


Listen to learn more about:

  • Cheryl's entrepreneurial journey - starting, growing and selling her companies

  • Raising daughters as a single mom, and how they helped her when she most needed it

  • Starting the next act of her career as a financial educator

  • Most common financial questions entrepreneurs ask her (HINT: cash flow and retirement)


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lifestylewealthgroup.com

rhythmofriches.com

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Read the episode transcript:

Laurie Barkman:

Welcome to Succession Stories, I’m Laurie Barkman. I work with business owners to maximize value, create options for the future, and be happy in your next.

I’m excited to share the “What’s Next Series” as part of Succession Stories.

These conversations spotlight the theme of transitions.

Changes can come at you unexpectedly, or be planned. Are you ready?

After all, Succession - in business and life - is about transitions and how you embrace “what’s next” matters.

Subscribe to Succession Stories wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you enjoy the episode, please rate and review us. Thanks for tuning in!

Let’s accelerate your business value. Visit SmallDotBig.com to get your complimentary ValueBuilder Score and work with Laurie Barkman to discover where to invest your time for the biggest return.

Laurie Barkman:

Lately I've been having more conversations with entrepreneurs about changes in their life and their business. I've decided to spotlight these conversations as part of a what's next series within the succession stories podcast. My first guest in this series is Cheryl Fields, an entrepreneur who restarted her career at age 47, after leaving a difficult relationship to become a financial advisor and educator. For many people, transitions are fueled by financial security. So I thought this would be a great way to introduce the what's next series. If you enjoy the episode, please consider giving a five-star rating in Apple podcasts to help others find the content. I appreciate you. Thanks for listening!

Laurie Barkman:

Cheryl, thanks for being here today. With this show, we are reaching entrepreneurs at every level, from the solopreneur to the small business, to the multi-generational legacy business. We're also reaching people who are thinking about changes in their life.


Laurie Barkman:

They may be facing transitions because of the economy or because of where they are personally and professionally. Some of them are starting a business in the next act of their career. I thought it would be great to hear your story as an entrepreneur, some of the challenges you faced, and how you pivoted to educating entrepreneurs and business owners about building wealth. Let's start by talking about your experience as an entrepreneur. Tell me about the different businesses that you've had.

Cheryl Fields:

Well, good morning, Laurie. It's so great to be here and thank you for having me. Yeah, we're totally in a transitional time. So I think your topics are so important right now and really empowering to business owners, professionals, and people that are thinking about, yeah, what's going to be next. What's going to happen next. So I've had a lot of different businesses. My very first crack at entrepreneurial-ism was when I was, I got out of high school a year early and I just knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.


Cheryl Fields:

And so I printed up business cards. I liked graphic design back then, it was all manual of course, decades before computers. And I just printed up business cards. I went door to door in industrial parks and I just said, Hey, I know I'm young, but I can do a good job. And I said, if you give me a chance, if you don't like the work, you don't have to pay for it. And so I went door to door, I got few new clients. I was just, I was just out there. I didn't know to be afraid, I didn't know to do anything else. And so this one company hired me to do an engine, something about an engine. And I had to like mark this engine up and do a graphic design on it anyway. So long story short, they called me back and they said, you know what the owner's really pleased.


Cheryl Fields:

And he'd like to meet you this week. And I said, oh, okay, great. So guess what? So it turned out actually I made $800, which was a whole lot of money back then. And the owner wanted to meet me. That was Mario Andretti. And the work I was doing was for the Long Beach Grand Prix. And I didn't even know it. And so I said, I don't even know like what entrepreneur means really or whatever, but I know I want to be. And right then I said, okay, I don't, I'm going to figure this out. And so I had lots of businesses after that. Well, I shouldn't say lots, but, and then I went up to LA and I worked with ABC television with a broadcast quality video production company. So we got to do lots of great shoots and things for the news or things for segments, or like we did a jazz video.


Cheryl Fields:

And again, it was a virtual company, which was great. And it was way before its time back then, right. Because we would just hire the people we needed for each shoot. And it was great. It was, cash in cash out, not a lot of structure. So it was great. It was really great. Then I decided to get out of the city. My girls were getting a little bit bigger. And so I moved to Grand Junction, Colorado and bought a printing company back in the graphics again, printing and design company. And this is right when right when computers were coming in. And so I did that for five years. I bought it at 17th in the market in the market of 17. It was dead last. And it in five years turns out as number two, second to only a franchise and in only five years.


Cheryl Fields:

But I said it was my first brick and mortar company. I was so excited. Right. I said, I'm going to have the parking space right next to the front door. I'm going to take all this time off with my kids living in Grand Junction. That's not really what happened. I got the parking space, but not all the rest of it. I learned about OSHA and I learned about taxes and I learned about all kinds of cashflow issues. And, we went out and we had lots of sales. I was good at the selling part, but I didn't realize as silly as it sounds now, but I know now, to grow a business, you need cash flow. And so like, I didn't realize that. So anyway, we worked that out. And then after that, then I went to, I had an opportunity to go to the state of Maine and I published an international business journal between Maine and Atlantic Canada.


Cheryl Fields:

And it was a positive reporting business paper. Again, the border, you couldn't pass goods across the border, but you could pass information. So then from there, I was actually hired by Gulf Stream Aerospace in Savannah, Georgia, the people that make the jets. And that's when my life changed. And then from there I have actually just, I've been in the financial services industry since then, but only as a financial advisor for a very short time, but now I'm a financial educator. So that's pretty much it. It's coast to coast.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. Coast to coast. You got your start early door to door, didn't know to be afraid, bought into a business and grew it. And I read on your website a little bit about your story. I was hoping you could talk about that. Where in, you're kind of alluding to it here, something changed. Your career hit some snags and you had to start over in your forties. What happened at 47?


Cheryl Fields:

So my businesses had always provided. It wasn't a thing where I was amassing great wealth and selling them for billions of dollars to somebody. But they did well and I did sell each one of them. All of that went well, but it wasn't like something that was creating less of wealth for me. I was raising my girls as a single mom and entrepreneur and loving it right. And actually they even came to work with me. They were in high school when I published the business journal and it was a family business. We all worked together, which was great. But then, so when I went to Savannah, Georgia, my girls stayed in Maine and by then they were probably in their mid-twenties or so. And so I got hired as a consultant at Gulf Stream Aerospace, which was actually the most fabulous thing.


Cheryl Fields:

It was so much fun. And that's probably another whole than another whole story. My office was right on the tarmac and I mean, all these international jets going and coming and it was just fabulous time, but I mean, I learned so much and I just, it was a very exciting time. I got to fly corporate. We would get used to that. Let me tell you that.

Laurie Barkman:

It's nice.


Cheryl Fields:

Yes. Right. But then what happened is I met somebody there. I got in a bad relationship. I got an interrelationship. It didn't, it was getting worse and worse and worse. And my girls finally called me and they said, mom, we know you're in a really bad relationship and we just want you back. We don't want something bad to happen. And so they said, we've booked a ticket for you on flight 646 in the morning, we booked a hotel room and we want to know, will you be on the plane?


Cheryl Fields:

And I was like, Whoa. So, I mean, I thought that I could fix it. I'd always been able to fix things in my life. And it was just about a strategy and implementing it, but this was different. And so I knew I didn't really have a choice. I mean, I had a choice, but I could never face my kids again. And I really wanted out anyway. So I packed what I could. I walked out the front door that day and three o'clock in the afternoon. And I walked to Forsyth Park and sat on the bench where Tom Hanks sat when he filmed the movie, Forrest Gump and said, “Life's like a box of chocolates.” And so I realized at that point, that was me. And I sat there, had a little pity party for a little bit. And then I said, okay, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?


Cheryl Fields:

And I realized that I knew how business worked, but I didn't know how money worked. And so I needed it to work for me quickly. And so I went back and became a financial advisor, was hired by a global investment firm right out of school. And that was late in ‘07 and the market crashes in ‘08. So I went to bed every night and I saw people losing all their money. And I joked that I was the only financial advisor that didn't lose a client in ‘08. That's just cause I didn't have one. So that was good for me. It's my claim to fame. But so I realized, like I heard the other advisors saying, oh, you can't quit your job. Or now, like people, people who are retiring right then, they could have, they lost 20, 30, 40% of what they counted on for the rest of their lives.


Cheryl Fields:

And they couldn't, they didn't have time to do it over. And I just went to bed every night. And I just said, I feel like I'm back on the park bench again. Cause I don't even believe in this system that could let this happen to people. And so every night I just went to bed. I said, please, Lord, just give me answers. Please just answers. And I didn't get any answers, but I did get a really good question one morning, I woke up with the idea of wait, what do wealthy people do? Because they don't start over every time the stock market crashes. And they always have time and money and not only enough money for their lives, but enough money to pass on. And I was like, so wait, none of that stuff really came up in financial advisor school. So I know one of the questions you like is what's your favorite book, right.


Cheryl Fields:

I read, Think and Grow Rich. And I decided to start modeling what wealthy people did. And so I started learning, interviewing like Napoleon Hill did. And what I found was that when they started the tax code in 1913, they also had a way that people could pay less taxes. And so now what I teach business owners to do is to increase the cash flow in their business, have tax-free income in retirement and leave a legacy for the next generation or the succession of their businesses to the next generation. So I've been a financial educator now for 10 years.


Laurie Barkman:

That's an amazing story. You went through a lot there in your history. And I just want to kind of pause on something because I think it's an important message for people that you can be in a bad situation and come out of it and your daughters, did you a massive, massive, I don't want to call it a favor, but they rescued you from something. They did an intervention and you had the peace of mind to pursue that and walk through that door and sit on the bench. And that's a wonderful visual. That's a such a powerful movie, Forrest Gump, and visual of him sitting on the bench. I can just imagine you there. And you're such a positive person. We can hear your energy. And I can only imagine what that must've felt like back then. And I just wanted to say, wow, you have some amazing daughters to get you out of that situation. So you took a risk, you pivoted, you became a financial advisor and you're passionate about the work you do. What energizes you the most about what you do and working with clients?


Cheryl Fields:

Well, because I feel like I'm really teaching people the truth about money and like now more than ever, right? I've only been a financial educator. I get paid to speak across the country at industry events and corporate events. But my favorite thing to do is to speak for free and educate people. And so I don't want them to be stuck in especially women. Right. I was stuck financially. Thank goodness I was an entrepreneur and I knew I could figure my way out of it, but a lot of people are stuck and they don't have that. they don't have all of that history of having to solve problems on the fly like that. And so I think that the main thing is I love the fact that I can teach people the truth about money. And right now, I mean, I've seen the market crash a second time in only 12 years.


Cheryl Fields:

And so it's like, now I'm so passionate about, I have a free program that I do every week and I just offer this education and everything that I've learned, because like you said, it's such a pivotal time for most people. And right now, I mean, I look at what's happening with the economy and there's going to be layers and layers of repositioning. I mean, and there's so much there, that's another whole big topic, but it's like, I even see where I live in South Florida. The family owned businesses are there's paper on the walls. They're brown paper, their doors are locked and that's going to be so many layers of financial, I want to say, challenges for people. And so I love the fact that I can help them right now.


Cheryl Fields:

You can get your money out of a 401k or an IRA without penalties, and I'm helping people do that right and left. It's just a great time to be able to yeah, take a look like it's kind of a park bench moment, again, for a lot of people. They’re working from home and we have the social unrest and we have elections coming up and we have no idea. We can't really plan. We don't know what it means. And so where I live in South Florida, again, we're almost, we're not on lockdown now, but they're closing the beaches and the restaurants. And so what does it mean? And so I think it's such a great time for me to be able to educate people and offer the education at no cost to them so that they can actually maybe have that park bench moment and say, okay, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? Which is just the question I asked myself that day.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. What surprises you the most when you're working with business owners, do you find that there's a certain topic that they're always asking you about?

Cheryl Fields:

A couple of things always come up and they're always so thrilled. I mean, I love to share the fact that they have options. Right? A lot of times we don't really know that we have options. And I think that's because the financial industry and the banks and the IRS I'll make a lot of money if they can just keep us in the lane. And so we do have a lot of options and that's what wealthy people have been doing. So I love to teach that because there's simple strategies. Right. And I help people implement them. And so that's really my favorite part about it is just, I mean, I could tell you story after story, my clients know that they've approved for me to share it.


Cheryl Fields:

So it's nothing I'm sharing without approval, but like one woman came home one day, her husband said, Hey, it's been really great last 25 years, but I've got a girlfriend. And so it's over. And she was, I think, 67 at the time. And, so she called me, she was a referral and she called me and she just said, I don't even know how to balance my checkbook hardly, I don't. And so we walked through every step of getting her. I mean, back she was where I was. Right. And I have that experience now that I say, Hey, wait, I get it right. I understand. And so she was one of them and now I always ask my clients, what's one thing I could do that would really be meaningful. And she just said, I would like to have one week vacation, one vacation, like where I could go out of the country.


Cheryl Fields:

And now fast forward five years she's actually got a global business. She's an artist and she's got a global business. And I told her, if you go, wherever you go, take your paintbrushes and teach classes. And so I called her a couple of weeks ago and she was in Paris teaching in cafes and she'd been there for a month. And so this is the kind of thing that can happen. And she called me last week. She says I have a big problem. I said, what's your big problem. She goes, this is all becoming a movement. And she said, I don't know what to do. And I'm like, so I connected her with some people that could help cause I've never really had led a movement. And so I'm thrilled for her. She's got clients all around the world now, and she's still, of course, she's almost 74, I think, 75 and living life to the fullest. So there's so many stories like that. And that's so motivating.


Laurie Barkman:

What's the most common question that you get from entrepreneurs?


Cheryl Fields:

It's basically about how can I increase my cashflow and how can I make sure I have retirement income? And those are, like I said, the two things that we specialize in. So we love the tax-free income in retirement. And so we help people be able to do that. And now with the penalties being removed and the taxes being deferred for three years or payable over three years, it's a great time to get your money tax deferred. Because one of the things I talk about again, and this is one of the topics I always bring up that people don't know, is we're $23 trillion in debt in the country. And they just passed out $3 trillion recently, they're going to do some more. The government doesn't make or do anything to generate its own wealth.


Cheryl Fields:

It only takes from tax taxpayers. And so we want to be sure that we are in a position as business owners, that, that doesn't cripple our business. I mean, we have enough challenges already, right. Let's just get a rock solid financial foundation. So I think that's the funnest part for me is, and I think the fact that I remember when I was, all the times that I was in business, those things were difficult for me. Like, how do I increase the cashflow? How, what am I going to do in retirement? What am I going to, how is money going to work for me? And now it's so fun that that was the pivot. And so now I can go back and say, Oh yeah, no, you can do that. You can do that. Right. You don't have to be, you don't have to figure it out on your own.


Laurie Barkman:

Right. Let's do some rapid fire fast four questions.


Cheryl Fields:

Okay.

Laurie Barkman:

Who's had the greatest impact on you and why?


Cheryl Fields:

Well, of course my daughters, right. How could I say anything other than that, but as far as going back in, like in history or whatever, my grandmother, I feel like I when I get into tough times or whatever, I just always feel her presence and she died decades ago. But it's just, it's somebody that I always think, okay. Like it's just nice to feel like you still have the presence of somebody, even if they're really not, they're still.

Laurie Barkman:

And you mentioned your favorite business books, so we'll skip that one. What's your strangest daily habit.

Cheryl Fields:

Well, so that's a funny question, right? One of the things that I think is kind of funny is every morning I go out and I, m take one of my patio chairs and put it in the grass and I have my coffee out there. Like when maybe it's seven o'clock and I just love to have my feet in the grass in the morning. And I don't know, I'm barefoot, of course. And of course I live in Florida, so it's nice and warm already. So the, so that's something that I love and enjoy, but as far as strange, I think you might laugh at this. When I was in high school, I used to run distance running. So I used to love to run and our coach always made us run part of it forward and part of it backward, we had to run backwards. And so now I don't run anymore, but I do walk, we have a big circle in the neighborhood so I can walk a big circle. So I walk part of it forward and part of it backwards, and I get a lot of strange looks. People are like, what is she doing? So I'm not sure what they're thinking, but if you want strange, I think they think that that's pretty strange, but it's actually, you use completely different muscles. So it's, yeah, it's kind of, it's just something I've always kept doing.


Laurie Barkman:

Let’s say you have two strange daily habits. We'll just leave it there.

Cheryl Fields:

Okay. I didn't know if you'd think the first one was strange or not. So yeah.

Laurie Barkman:

No, it's not strange. That's great. If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be?

Cheryl Fields:

Well, actually I have some really cool people in my heritage. People in my family tree, one of them was Isaac Newton. The other one was Joseph Campbell. But I think who I'd have dinner with is, again, someone in my family tree who was Alexander Hamilton. I think it would be so fascinating to have dinner with somebody who was so instrumental in the foundation of the country.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah it would be a great dinner conversation. He'd probably talk your ear off though right?


Cheryl Fields:

Right. I know. I would love that. I'd sit and listen all night long.

Laurie Barkman:

All night long. I love to ask everyone if they have a favorite saying or a mantra regarding entrepreneurship.


Cheryl Fields:

So I think one of the first things is I started realizing that I wanted to switch gears and as the financial advisor and I wanted to do more, what wealthy people did. I saw a quote from Robert Kiyosaki and it's one that I've always kept to. I use it in my presentation. It says,

“It's not how much you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you and how many generations you keep it for.”

And I love that.

Laurie Barkman:

That's a great quote. What's the best way for people to find you online?

Cheryl Fields:

My website is lifestylewealthgroup.com and every three weeks or so, I'm offering a free program called Rhythm to Riches. And that's my three-day live bootcamp where we, it's a 45 minute session at 11 o'clock in the morning Eastern, but that's where I'm teaching all these strategies. And so anybody's welcome to join. There's no cost. There's no upsell at the end or anything like that. I just want to teach you what I've learned over the last 12 years and teach you how to keep your money safe. So that's at rhythmofriches.com and you can go right there and register if anybody needs to reach me. I'm cheryl@lifestylewealthgroup.com.

Laurie Barkman:

So what is something that I did not ask you about that you wanted to share?


Cheryl Fields:

Let's see, I guess I just am so passionate right now that this is such a great time for business owners, professionals, whatever, to really stop and take stock and be able to get everything, all of their resources working for them so that they can go out and make and do and have everything that they want in their life. And I see it all the time. And so it's just what I love to do and what I love to talk about. So maybe that's something that I'm most excited about. And there's so much there that we could, we could talk about, but I think it's just great. I want to tell you, thank you for having me on the show today. And I love what you're doing with business owners and with succession and all of that. So again, just thanks for having me and yeah. Really enjoyed our time together.

Laurie Barkman:

Thanks Cheryl. Thanks for being here. It was great to have you.


Cheryl Fields:

Talk to you later, Laurie. Bye!


Laurie Barkman:

Innovation. Transition. Growth. Easy to say but hard to do. If you’re an entrepreneur facing these challenges, I get it. I work with businesses - from small to big - for strategic planning with your team to achieve your vision. Visit smalldotbig.com to schedule a call with me. I’d love to connect with you.

Be sure to catch the next Succession Stories episode with more insights for next generation entrepreneurs. Thanks for listening!


Laurie Barkman is a Business Growth Advisor | Entrepreneurship Instructor | Host of Succession Stories Podcast| CEO of SmallDotBig working with owners to accelerate business value and achieve their goals. Reach out to Laurie to schedule a discovery call today.

SmallDotBig is a strategic advisory firm for owners of small to mid-size companies. Our mission is to dramatically increase the value of your business anticipating a sale or ownership transition in the future. We help you get more freedom over your time and more happiness in your personal life. Our process combines Value Building, Executive Coaching, and Strategic Planning. Want a business and personal roadmap to achieve your dreams?  Reach out today. 

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