Evan Jefferson is a Certified Financial Educator whose no stranger to financial hardship. At 25, Evan reached his own financial woes, as what he calls "Broke, Busted and Disgusted." For Evan however, the story didn't end there. It is where the story begins.
Now a self-made entrepreneur (CEO of ERGJ Enterprises) who is far from the days of his financial woes, teaches others how they too can change from being broke, busted and disgusted to embrace possibilities of financial freedom. And as author of the best-selling book, "Black Billionaires Club," Evan highlights people of color who are leading the race of building generational wealth.
We sat down with Evan to talk about his journey in becoming an entrepreneur leading the way in helping people especially those who are in communities of color become financially fit and self-sustaining.
How did you get into financial education?
"I really have been in finances all my life. I get it from my dad as far as growing up. It wasn't until I got into my own life, I ran into some financial issues and I had to make it a priority to get out of them.
As I climbed myself out of debt, I realized there were other people just like me I could reach back out to and help. I didn't see a voice that looked like me. You have the Dave Ramsey's and Suze Orman's, but not a face that I could relate to speaking to the power of money. So I decided to become a figure for those who can relate to me."
Were you an entrepreneur at the time of being in heavy debt?
"No I wasn't an entrepreneur at the time, I was working. I was 25 years old, a grown man with responsibilities. I didn't have $500 in the bank and looked up one day and said, something must be wrong. So I knew I had to get to work. I think I was in between jobs at the time. Again I was a grown man, I can fix my own issues.
I took a menial job where I learned that when you are not making much is when you learn how manage better instead of waiting until you make a lot and still haven't learned habits of wealth. I went to work, started working overtime, double time, triple time and as much work as they could give me.
I took that job and worked the corporate ladder that led me to some other opportunities in various jobs. One job in particular, I picked up a skill as a forecast analyst and so my real journey into entrepreneurship started there. My skill sets as a forecaster could be used in other avenues and so I asked myself, what else could I forecast? And that is when the stock market came up where I started to learn about how to forecast stocks. Once I dove into it, I saw that I was the youngest and darkest person in the rooms I was going into with an analytical mind to forecast the stock market which lead to me doing speeches on finance.
I joined Toastmasters and I later became known as the Money Guy. People started coming to me asking me money questions like retirement savings and money allocations. That is when I realized I could get paid doing this. I helped a retirement company get 15% to 16% back on their investments. After that they referred people to me, I kept getting business and eventually quit the job to run my business.
My whole philosophy is what do I wish someone taught me about money in the fifth grade.
So I run my business on that basis, what do I need to teach a fifth grader about money?"
Especially in communities of color, what does fiscal prosperity mean to you?
"When you start looking at wealth, it starts with your mindset.
So fiscal prosperity starts with your intangible prosperity which starts with your mind and how you think and what you are learning. You become what you study. Money is something you are going to be dealing with for the rest of your life.
If you don't take time to study money, good luck when you are ready to retire.
If it’s important to you, you study it.
If you know that your health is important and you don't study health eating all the bad things for your health, check in with me when it's time for you to go to the doctor.
So what are you studying?
Are you waiting for someone else to give to you what you can teach yourself? I think for some, it may be more important to complain about the issues rather than solve the issues. Until that changes nothing changes."
So, is money mind over matter?
In others words, is money more thought than it is paper?
"If you study the history of money, it is an idea. If we understand that money is an idea, I can use the ideas that God has given me and turn it into money as well.
Money is merely an exchange of value for value. And so the value I want on someone else's dollar and the value that I give is in the form of knowledge, product or service that they pay for.
Until we start getting into the creative space where we are going to exchange something versus begging for something, you are really not going to get wealthy.
All most people know is to trade their time for money. And that is finite, you only have so much time. So, how can you make time work more in your favor by trading something or creating something that has nothing to do with your time?
Something that you can make money while you sleep?
Trade money for money.
Trade ideas for money.
Trade plans for money."
For who those who are struggling to get out of debt or want to make the first step in building wealth, what is the first step to taking the first step?
"Admit, decide and commit.
Admit you have a problem. The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Admittance is a place of honesty. Get honest get real. People like to delude themselves saying, "Money is not important, money doesn't matter," but you will be dealing with money for the rest of your life.
So get honest about this thing.
If you are not where you want to be, you actually have something to do with it. May not be everything, but you have something to do with it.
What I tell people similar to the analogy of playing cards, when the dealer hands out the cards; I can't complain to the dealer because they didn't give me a spade. What I can do, is look at my hand and say, what can I do? How many books am I going to make? What am I going to do to win something? Or I can look at my card and accept defeat because I wasn't given a spade and give up.
I can't complain about the lot that I was given, but I can do something with the lot that I have.
Decide. Decide that you want to do something different.
Commit. Commit to 30 minutes a day. Something as simple as 30 minutes can make a difference.
30 minutes of your daily spiritual life.
30 minutes of exercise.
30 minutes of your mental development and finances.
Wealth begins in the mind.
You have to be wealthy in your mind long before you are wealthy in your wallet.
You have to be out of debt in your mind long before you are in a debt free state."
What have obstacles taught you?
"Obstacles have taught me that I can overcome them.
The biggest obstacle that you are going to have is yourself.
And if you can make a commitment to keep moving forward even when your old habits are creeping back in and trying to get you to do stuff you used to do, then you will feel victorious.
Obstacles challenged me to say, "Is this what I really want?" To me, they are there to test you.
If you are serious, obstacles won't stop you and eventually get out the way, but if you are playing, they will stop you.
You can't do anything without adversity.
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
I will say however, it was easy going into debt, but a lot harder coming out of it."
What does embrace possibilities mean to you?
"One of my great mentors Les Brown has a speech that says, "It's possible." And I always add on to that because when we says it's possible, we know that it's out there for me, but embracing possibilities to me means that it's possible for me.
Yeah it's possible to get out of debt.
But it's possible for me to get out of debt. And now that I own it, I can go do something about it.
We see the people and the magnificent things that have been done which are outside of us, but when we put ourselves in it and say its inside of me, I embrace that I can do, I can accomplish, I can have and I can change-it is all possible for me."
As Evan mentions previously, the idea of money is not going anywhere and neither is his desire to help others understand it better. With plans to ensure that the youth has an opportunity to learn this message early in life, Evan looks to build a school that cultivates a mind knowing that, "It is possible," to embrace possibilities!
For more information about Evan and how you can become of member of his Black Billionaire Club visit here
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