Episode 29: Show me the money

November 4, 2013

Natalia Oberti Noguera

"We're an angel investing bootcamp for women...but people hear ‘women’ and ‘money’ and they think philanthropy, donation, grants. I have to change the conversation...and bring in the investing focus." - Natalia Oberti Noguera

"If you don't feel 'worthy', that’s going to show up in the prices that you charge, in the way you negotiate or choose not to negotiate.”

- Jacquette Timmons

Jacquette Timmons on my sofa after our interview

In this show we tackle a question that continues to fascinate me after reporting on it on and off for years. Why do so many women have a tricky relationship with money? I start out by talking to Pipeline Fellowship founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera - she's striving to get more women entrepreneurs the funding they need to make a go of their businesses. Along the way, she's come across some interesting - and confusing - female attitutes to money. In the second half of the show I sit down with financial behaviorist Jacquette Timmons to try to tease out why women have a hard time pricing our services when we start our own businesses, and why we don't always like to pay full price for other people's services (but have no trouble forking out for a piece of clothing we've fallen in love with). I candidly admit my guests and I don't have all the answers - if you think you do after listening to this, please post a comment below. 20 minutes.

Show notes: For more information on angel investing, here's the 2012 report from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. The Kauffman Foundation is a repository of information on entrepreneurship in the US and they've produced a useful, fact-packed book on female entrepreneurship called A Rising Tide. The post I wrote on women and money that I mention in the show is When Women Work for Free. Jacquette Timmons' book is Financial Intimacy.

I also mention Jodi Detjen and the show she appeared in, Killing the Ideal Woman.

Also, be sure to check out the selection of glasses at this week's sponsor, www.WarbyParker.com, and use the code BROAD when you check out, to get free, expedited three-day shipping. 



Welcome to The Broad Experience, the show about women, the workplace, and success. I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte.

This time on the show we explore women’s relationship with money.  We start out talking to the young founder of an angel investing bootcamp for women. Then we delve into why some women have such a hard time valuing themselves and charging for their services.

(:11) “’Cause there’s one thing to increase the price and then there’s another thing to be comfortable with asking for it and like really feeling like yeah, darn it, what I’m delivering, it’s worth this.”

Some of us aren’t that keen to pay full price for other people’s services, either. Coming up on The Broad Experience.

Women-owned companies start out with far less outside investment than male-owned firms. Debate about why rages – many say investment networks and venture capital firms are boys’ clubs that can only relate to people who look like them, others say women do a lousier job of pitching or just don’t ask for money in the first place.

Natalia Oberti Noguera is on a mission to give more female entrepreneurs a good start. She’s the founder and CEO of The Pipeline Fellowship, which trains women to become angel investors in small, women-owned companies. An angel investor is someone with a fairly high net-worth who invests their own money in a company and like any investor, hopes for a good return. The idea is that if more women become educated investors, more female-owned companies will get the funding they need to make a go of it. Natalia says the Pipeline Fellowship focuses on funding women-owned companies with a social mission, and getting them into the public sphere…

“Tom’s Shoes, Ben and Jerry’s, Warby Parker…who are the people i.e. social entrepreneurs who are making the headlines? Once again, white guys.”

Actually Warby Parker is sponsoring today’s episode – more on that later. Nothing wrong with white guys. She’s just saying…

“That’s why I’m so super-committed because guess what, I do see the women social entrepreneurs and women of color, as a queer Latina it’s so important for me to not just talk about gender, there are different types of diversity out there – age, race, ethnicity, different sorts of backgrounds, professional backgrounds. That’s something I’m committed to doing. We have the Body Shop, Anita Roddick, we need more stories, we need more people, because guess what, the women social entrepreneurs are out there, they’re just not getting the funding, and that’s what we’re looking to solve.”

In the two-and-a-half years since its first bootcamp, The Pipeline Fellowship has trained more than 70 women investors. The year it started women made up just over 12 percent of angel investors. Last year, women were almost 22 percent of the total. 

Natalia says the problem isn’t just that there aren’t enough women investors who may see more potential in another woman’s idea… but basically entrepreneurs who aren’t white men just don’t have the same confidence to put themselves forward in the first place…

“In 2012 out of all the companies that pitched to US angel investors only 16% were women-led and only 6% were minority-led. From that 16% of women-led startups that actually pitched about 25% secured funding, from that 6% of minority-led startups that pitched about I’d say 18% secured funding. So the other issue I see when I talk to women entrepreneurs is this hesitation to step up to the plate. So I have this motto that is, this current agenda is getting out the call to action in the sense that telling people it isn’t a zero sum game. I know so many entrepreneurs who hesitate to go out to pitch because they’re coming at it from ‘I’m not ready yet, I might not secure the funding’, but what they don’t realize is even if they don’t secure the funding that day the feedback they might get from these potential investors, might get them to a business model that might better meet market needs. And maybe the investors at that event might not be interested in agriculture or food tech or pet tech but might know someone who is… and for a lot of entrepreneurs, particularly women and people of color entrepreneurs, first we don’t have access to capital, we also don’t have access to networks.”

So go out and meet people and pitch even if you’re not sure you’ll make the cut. Something that came up during our conversation was the psychological side of money, which really fascinates me. Natalia told the story of one woman who had tried and tried to get funding for her company with its mission of doing good…but it was a for profit. She simply couldn’t persuade enough funders, most of them women, to give her money…

“Finally she decided to throw in the towel in terms of the concept of the for profit social venture and she started a nonprofit. And she went back to all those people she was talking about, primarily women, and these same women who had trouble writing a check for her for profit social venture, they started writing checks to her non profit. And this brings up a lot of issues that we’re talking about women and money even that I deal with…as you know, the founder and CEO of the Pipeline Fellowship which is an angel investing bootcamp for women. People hear ‘women’ and ‘money’ and they think ‘philanthropy’, ‘it’s a donation, it’s grants,’ so it’s almost like I’m doing the heavy lifting in terms of getting more women to become angels and also in changing the whole conversation society as a whole has regarding women and money, and bringing in the investing focus. So backtrack to this woman social entrepreneur who decided to start her non profit. The other issue, and this is very hetero-normative, and I do want to bring this up, that came up was for a lot of these women they were married, and charity, that was something they owned as individuals in this relationship, if they wanted to donate to a cause that’s, you know, something they did on their own time. As soon as it became about an investment, it was a conversation many of them felt they had to have with their spouse.”

I don’t even know where to start with that – why do women need to consult their husbands if it’s the same amount of money they’d otherwise give as a donation? Does this come down to the commonly cited reason of too many women not understanding enough about investing? Or is there some other reason? If you have theories about this, please post a comment under this episode at The Broad Experience dot com.

[Warby Parker sponsor announcement here.]

Next I sat down with Jacquette Timmons. Some of you may know her from her media appearances or maybe you’ve read her book Financial Intimacy. Jacquette started working on Wall Street in the late 1980s. She eventually managed other people’s money, but soon realized what really interested was the way they behaved around money – what motivated them to do, or not do, certain things with it. Now she’s a financial behaviorist with her own business, coaching people around money.

I started by talking about something I’ve discussed on the show before and as a radio reporter…

“I’ve done some stories in the past on women and negotiation and many women don’t like negotiating, they find it extremely uncomfortable, and frankly a lot of women have a problem valuing themselves…there’s this issue about, how much am I worth, oh, am I really worth that much? This is a big deal, isn’t it?”

“It’s a huge, huge deal. I don’t recall the statistics off the top of my head of when a woman graduates from college, and the diff in income between she and a male counterpart simply because he asks for $5k more and she didn’t and it nets out to something like $750k simply because he asks for more at the very outset. It’s not something we’ve been taught at least my generation…the other thing though is that translates to when women create their own businesses. I know even my own self, I’ve had friends tell me, you’re not charging enough. And for me to go through the inner work that was necessary for me to get to the point where I was comfortable – cause there’s one thing increasing the price and another feeling OK asking for it – feeling like OK, darn it, what I’m delivering, it’s worth this! So I think that’s it too, but I know I wrote a piece for another publication and I talked about how we have to work out our family stuff in therapy and not in our businesses, because we don’t realize a lot of your family stuff plays out in how you feel about yourself and if you don’t feel quote-unquote worthy, that’s going to show up in the prices that you charge, in the way you negotiate or choose not to negotiate.”

These feelings women have about money can get complicated. In early October I wrote a blog post on The Broad Experience site called When Women Work for Free. I asked readers to talk about their own experiences of doing something for nothing in the hope it might help their career in some way.

One reader, a longtime career coach in Europe, wrote back and after answering my initial question she sort of turned it around. I read part of her response to Jacquette:

“The incidence of women not being prepared to either pay the market price for services or expect something for free generally in my experience is higher than men. Yet the same women would think nothing of spending €250 on shoes or €150 on getting their hair highlighted. Women have to stop expecting someone to take care of them and to invest in their careers. When they understand the value of other people’s services and time then perhaps they will then start to have an idea of value of their own…”

JT: So here’s my thought on that. I’ve gotten to the point now where I’ll do selective pro bono speaking engagements but they’re always for a strategic reason…and if it is more than, you know, a one-time, well typically it’s never that, but if it’s a full blown workshop I’ll only do it for a faith-based organization. I’ve told people, if you don’t fit a faith-based profile, I’m not doing it for free. When I speak sometimes it’s paid and sometimes it isn’t, if it isn’t, it’s a platform that’s going to be greater than probably even what I would have gotten for a monetary standpoint for that particular speaking engagement. Each person has to come up with what the boundaries and parameters are for them. I don’t negotiate my fee. My fee is my fee. If someone is unable to afford it I’ll put together a payment plan but I don’t discount my fee at all. The person who wrote in said – these aren’t her words – someone may nickel and dime you and then go out and spend $150 and I know, because I’ve experienced that. Someone asking me, oh that’s too much, and then you hear them going out to, and I live in New York City…they tell you the place they’re going to and you know hey just dropped $150 on dinner, so it’s just like where are your priorities?!”

I asked her to unpack that a bit. What is going on there? One thing, she thinks, is what she calls the culture of immediate gratification – dinner, for instance, gives instant, pleasurable results. A single coaching session may not.

“One of the things I speak to in my book is this whole idea of how we live in a microwave society. You can put something in the microwave and it can be hot in a minute. That has translated into so many things in terms of what we expect. Including from relationships, so I think people expect the same thing – that mindset translates into when it comes to doing business with somebody else. They don’t realize you’re cultivating a relationship, or that’s the goal, you’re just paying for the person’s time in that moment, you’re really paying for their expertise, knowledge, experience, insights, and all that has been cultivated over the entire lifespan of their career, not just that 45 or 60 minute time they are spending with you. And you are paying for their ability to kind of think about all of those things and come up with a solution that is targeted just specifically for you. And I think people need to think of all that goes into it and they might respect the price more.”

Then, going back to what my correspondent said earlier about women’s stinginess with some things but not others…I brought up a friend of mine who has her own internet services business. She told me a few months ago something she said she’d never admit publicly. Her female clients are cheap. She says men never quibble over the price of her services, women always do. She finds it incredibly frustrating.

“You know what I’d be curious to know is if those same women do that strategy with men. So is it an issue of I’m speaking with another woman, so we should have this immediate affinity and of course she should be willing to give me a discount, is it that mentality? Because if so you are looking at the woman’s solidarity in a very negative way… because you’re assuming that because we’re of the same gender then automatically you should hook me up…”

I’ve no way of knowing if my friend’s clients try to bargain with men as well but if you have theories on this, again, please let me know on the website.

Jacquette also brought up something I feel is almost taboo for a lot of women to talk about.

“I had to work on really wrapping my head around it’s OK to make money with ease. I think we all grow up around some conditioning around money and one of my conditionings was you had to work hard for it, and if you didn’t work hard for it, you didn’t get it.”

And because her work came so naturally to her…it took a while not to feel guilty about doing a four-hour job and being well paid for it.

“The other thing I don’t really think we grasp is we’re now really steeped into a knowledge based society but that wasn’t the case – we were still in the early transition of that in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and I think that the mindset, and the mentality and approach of how we did business and how we valued the time it took to do something was very much entrenched in that, you work an 8 hour shift, you work really hard, that kind of thought process. So I think even though I never worked in that kind of environment, the fact that culturally that was what was surrounding me…I think I just picked up some of these beliefs about the correlation and relationship between the dynamic of work and what you get paid for the work that you do.”

Finally I brought up something that came from a few podcasts ago – you may remember Jodi Detjen who was in show 25, which I called Killing the Ideal Woman. One of the things she talks about in her book is many women’s need to be nice – or be seen as nice, anyway. She believes this puts not all, but a lot of women in a mindset where effectively they think of earning a lot of money as almost dirty. Doing good was more important to many of her interviewees than earning a market rate.

Now I’m thinking aloud here, but this may actually relate back to what Natalia Oberti Noguera was talking about where women feel it’s OK to give money away to a social entrepreneurship venture – but investing it? That means they may actually make money back…and perhaps that’s what makes them uncomfortable – the idea of making money from a venture that’s trying to do some good in the world. Maybe this is all tied up with our perceptions of ourselves as nice people, or people who should be seen to be nice. As I said earlier, it’s complicated.

Jacquette says she’s seen this ambivalent attitude to money in plenty of women, and she’d like to change it if for no other reason than that women don’t save enough for their later years.

“And so I think this whole notion of it’s not cool to earn a lot of money, or if I earn a lot of money that means it’s materialistic of me, has to do with the way capitalism, and I’m going to use the word, has been pimped. Because I don’t think capitalism in and of itself is bad. I think it’s what people do with it. And I think if people recognize, if I do well that allows me to have more resources to help others so the greater good can do well…but so often people want to make doing well seem like a bad thing, so this whole idea of I shouldn’t earn this much or it’s too materialistic of me to do that…whoever is thinking that has a lot of inner work to do on their own relationship with money.”

Jacquette Timmons.

That’s The Broad Experience for this time.  Again, if you have thoughts about this show please post them under this episode at The Broad Experience dot com or on the show’s Facebook page. I’ll be posting some show notes as well.

The Broad Experience is supported by the Mule Radio Syndicate, which hosts other intriguing podcasts. One of those is This is Actually Happening…first person stories about what happens when everything changes. Also Everything Sounds, which explores the role sound plays in art, science and culture.

And if you can kick in a few bucks to support what I’m doing please go to the support tab on The Broad Experience dot com. And if you like what you hear please write a quick review on iTunes – it helps get the show noticed, and I definitely want the show to attract more ears.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte. Thanks for listening.