WCW: Amanda John

I make sure the work I do is work I love, the business I build is one I have a vision for and the ability to make it work and grow.
~Amanda John

Women’s Month may be nearing its end, but honoring women who are trailblazers in their respective industries is something that we must do without ceasing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn't be that women are the exception”. Amanda John is that woman. She is a non-executive director at The Financial Planning Institute and serves as a business transformation coach. Talk about taking up space! (in the words of our very own Zozibini Tunzi!). She is also the co-founder of Congealed Legacy which focuses on helping people on their financial literacy journey. We had the pleasure of having her speak at our FinWomen event earlier this month where she shared her top financial tips for women and the importance of constantly learning and taking up opportunities even if you are the least qualified in the room. We caught up with her and had a candid interview about her personal finance journey and how she has been able to amass the incredible success she has built up for herself.

  1. Let us start from where the Amanda John story began, which is your childhood. Growing up, what was the attitude that your parents taught you to have towards money and how has that influenced your relationship with money and your overall success?

Born "n baie laat lammetjie" as people would say in Afrikaans, 'a late lamb' so to speak, perhaps I was the lucky kid of all my siblings because I got to reach my teens, early twenties and now in my 30's with my parent's wisdom at its peak. While that was a blessing in disguise, their strictness had peaked just as much. Many teachings about money, how to manage it, how to have a relationship and respect money were so quite indirect in the sense that I mostly watched my parents MODEL a lot of financial behaviours that today I can proudly say have rubbed off on me.

My parents would sit at the dining room table discussing the cheques they were signing for boarding school, for books, for tuck, toiletries and even how much would be deposited into my bank account for the month amongst many other commitments they had as parents. When mom shopped for my siblings and I, especially on account, I still hear the till lady ask "6 or 12 months Ma?" and my mom would smile and say "haai 6 months yho, asoze ndibhatale i-Interest mna!" meaning 'I'll pay back interest-free over a 6 month period" - trust me I learned a lot from that. When dropping me off at boarding school, they would always say "don't call us before month-end for top-up pocket money, you spend what you have and make sure you remember the important things because you will get money again at the end of the month." - the powerful needs and wants conversation, even though it was not discussed like that with me, the live within your means talk and don't spend what you don't have - these were critical things I learned for them, mostly by watching how they did things.

  1. Were there any setbacks in your life or mistakes in relation to financial fitness that really prompted you to take hold of your financial future?

It is difficult to say because to date, I do not live beyond my means, I do not overspend to a point where I no longer have money and always have to tap into credit. I can however recall a time when I really had to be very calculating about a career move I was forced to make before the brokerage I worked for closed town and make a way to have enough to last me for 3-4 months while I really take the time to look for the most ideal job for me and I found it, in month 4. Having utilized credit to live for those 4 months before my 1st and next cheque, I had to have planned for it in such a way that by the time I did get employed, I would be able to pay back what I owed, I was in a position to ask for a payment break on my car (with ease I must say because of how well I had been managing my finances in general - we talk a lot about that to date that maintaining a great credit score is good for one, sometimes you never know when hell will break loose. However, that is why it’s so important to have an emergency fund.

  1. Your career seems to be a testimony of how one can pivot and challenge themselves to reach greater heights. You went from having an LLB degree to joining Old Mutual and now co-founding Congealed Legacy, which is all about financial fitness. How much courage does that take and how do you feel like all those different phases of your life have helped you make the impact you want to make?

Being in touch with myself has been a big drive to the many things I do. We call it intuition right?! While I am a very grounded person, a hard worker, someone who knows what impact and change they want to bring, I am also aware of how to go about doing things. I tend to go with the flow because in everything I do, I already make sure that they are as aligned as I possibly would like them to be, that way I am still able to manage studies when there's a need, manage my work, manage the businesses I founded (Congealed Legacy), the book projects as well as continuous innovation in everything I do. I believe that this is how I am able to almost 'stay in my line'. I make sure the work I do is work I love, the business I build is one I have a vision for and the ability to make it work and grow.

  1. What characteristics are vital for one to survive and thrive in entrepreneurship and the corporate space?

Do what you love, manage your time very well, try to deliver beyond the call of duty as much as you possibly can, involve yourself in initiatives and with people you can learn from, always remember you are your most important brand and be kind to yourself.

  1. As a business transformation coach, what is the most common mistake businesses make when it comes to finances?

Many people in business tend to what the results (profits) way too soon. It's great when that happens as that is the main objective of any person, that within its core mandates it still makes money. However people want to reap the rewards too early without realizing that investing back in your business is crucial, putting some 'rainy day funds' aside is critical and insuring oneself, one's business and one's income is so important that should something happen, all the hard work can be easily washed away. Many businesses do not have the right processes in place that are clear in what exactly does that business do for its customers, how they do it and what value they are bringing to people or other businesses through what they offer and these things can be easily overlooked if not built well within the processes and also written down.

  1. What are your top 3 tips for individuals and entrepreneurs who want to build sustainable financial futures and long term wealth?

Don't rush to get a loan for a business right at the beginning, invest your time, your IP, your creativity, and your offering to make enough money for the business to run itself. Ensure you break down how much you want your business to make yearly, and monthly and start breaking that down to weekly and daily and basically work backwards and understand what it is you need to do to hit those numbers and simply get things done and keep pushing. There's nothing more wonderful than running your business at no debt. This is not to say a business should not need to tap into loans, grants etc but I work on the belief that I must have already been able to prove to myself and my business that I can bring the money in, I can meet targets and that when it's time to expand or enhance offerings, the business is already healthy, the business will be able to pay back its dues and still be sustainable.

  1. What is the legacy that you aim to leave and how do you want people to remember you?

I want to change the Financial Literacy narrative especially in the black communities, especially with young black upcoming professionals for them too, to understand how much freedom managing their finances the right way can give them, how strong of legacies they too can leave for their families and how to best do that by understanding your finances, by understanding the importance of introducing money management to our children from a young age, it plays a big role. I know because this is the legacy my family has blessed me with. It would be a dream come true if a lot of the work that I do now and am planning to do in future, could be implemented in schools, tertiaries, places of work and even places of play because when we continuously learn, engage, take action and reflect on the actions we take, we are able to grow and make wiser and more informed decisions.

  1. How can people reach out to you or even buy the Congealed Legacy fitness gear?

Our daily journal and the kid's book are available on our website to place an order, visit http://www.congealedlegacy.co.za and you can find them under 'books and tools'. The family board games will also be available as of the 1st of September. We take queries and orders on all our social media platforms too and people can find all our social media pages also listed on the website.

There you have it! It doesn’t get more inspirational and candid than this.

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