This Wednesday, we bring you an exclusive interview with a woman who knows what it means to be holistically wealthy - spiritually, mentally and financially! She is the fearless Itumeleng Barnard
At our I Am A Rich Man event, you gave us a very insightful perspective of wealth. You said that being rich is about being rich mentally, spiritually, and socially. What does this all mean and how can one apply it in their life?
This is an interestingly difficult question. I am Christian by faith, and for me when my spirit is fully aligned to my purpose (the reason I was created and born alive despite being a breech birth back in the 80’s), decisions that I make in my finances, family, social (including love) etc, are all set to advance attaining that purpose. Anything that infects, or affects my spirit, I try to get rid of as quickly as I possibly can.
The reason for this simply is that a calm spirit is less destructive to my actions and thoughts. Remember, I mentioned that as human beings we tend to worry about what society would say about us, and our status, instead of worrying about what Itumeleng is saying about her wealth, and status? When in harmony with my spirit, my interest is not in pleasing human beings, but pleasing my Creator. The way I apply it is through music. I like listening to R&B, not the recent stuff full of derogatory words to women, rather those so called love songs. I also listen to a lot of gospel music, and jazz. I believe I have a gospel song for every situation in my life. I keep an extremely close group of friends, which is something I have been criticized for all my life, as far as being accused of not liking people, or being a snob (lol). I read predominantly wealth, spiritual books, biographies, anything that will expand my mind, and get me to see the world differently by forcing me to grow. Included in these are business books of course.
I pick the 12 books at the beginning of the year, and pray I finish them all. I also have mentors in all aspects of life that I look up to, and ask advice on all things, but love (family), that part I leave to God, and my parents because the heart is very important. From it flows life.
Talk about becoming a “wow-man” in relation to being a woman who fulfils her highest potential.
Firstly, I hope that “highest potential” is self-defined in that woman, and not based on what society deems as a woman's potential. When a woman understands who she is, and what she was created to do (I am not speaking of marriage and children here, I am referring to the woman’s purpose) she is able to manifest her gifts in a way that displays all of her potential and purpose, she is able to attract the right people, situations, opportunities etc. I have to add that attaining this does not mean there are no challenges.
In fact the more you master your spirit, and strive to bring forth what was deposited in you at creation (not birth but creation it is not a typo), the harder the challenges hit. To be “wow”, or “outstanding”, you can’t follow the crowd, you can’t be comfortable in mediocrity, and in achieving less than what you were created to. When you decide to dim your light to make the person next to you comfortable is when you stop being “wow”.
This reminds me of my favourite quote by Marianne Williamson - Our Deepest Fear.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
When you shine as God intended you to, that is the wow factor that will inevitably capture the world.
What approach do you think that society should take when we seek to teach women about their finances?
I suppose we can start with the truth: women are also designed to earn money, generate wealth, and do so as much as their male counterparts earn/generate, or even more. Their ability to control finances is not limited by gender. Learning to manage your home, single or not, being the CFO of their own household, is not a weakness but a strength. It is probably the most important, and safe place to make mistakes to learn from.
It is also important to start this at a young age, whether it’s games, or books, including opening an account for that girl child. Understanding your bank account: simply put, if you are spending more money than you generate you have a problem. Understanding that credit when it is not leveraged (used to generate income not pay for daily expenses), is not good use of money; And then of course, most importantly there’s kingdom principles of money. As a spiritual being, that is my starting point. Yes, I don't always get it right, but I try daily to make my finances overflow by following that.
You spoke about the importance of having mentors, and you personally spoke about how you unfortunately have only male mentors. Do you think our approach to finances, and our solidarity as women would be different if more women took up mentorship positions?
I don’t know and don’t think the mentor's gender matters when coming to finances. A mentor for me, is someone who has mastered (not perfected) an area in life in a way that I admire, and wish to learn from to avoid walking the same hard road they had when going at it alone. Where I think women mentorship could play a role is in the family vs career debate that women face. I don’t think it’s fair that a woman should be put in a position to decide between a “great” career, and having a family. That should not even be on the table for discussion.
Female examples who have mastered this aspect could be beneficial for those young women who yearn for both. You can’t say to someone they must be half themselves, and then expect them to be a happy, effective citizen of South Africa.
The inverse is also true that men are expected to be working machines generating money/wealth, and denied the opportunity to be actively present in their kid’s/family’s lives. In my working experience it was actually women who failed to understand that I want both, and will achieve both. I actually find it sad that females can be so oppressive in corporate regarding this matter compared to my male bosses. But then again there’s a difference between a boss and a leader, but that’s a topic for another time.
Back to the topic. Generally, a woman’s financial focus would be different from a man’s. It is how we are created. It does not make one less than the other in any manner, because when combined, both beings collaborate to achieve a purpose, as they would benefit from the strength that the other gender does not possess. If you are the type of person who is not blinded by God’s creation with respect to gender, but wants to learn skills and principles that will set you apart, and help you achieve your purpose, then it won’t matter which gender does it (mentorship). Does the spirit have a gender?
Any tips on how women can start cultivating a better relationship with money?
I actually think that in general, women have a better relationship with, and understanding of money than men. This is based on what they spend their money on. What I would like to see is a continuous improvement of females that leads them to believe that they are capable of commanding, demanding, and expecting to generate as much wealth as their male counterparts. From investing in your self-image to learning, understanding, and practicing good financial principles whether through mentors, reading books, or formal education on the matter. I think being intentional about being financially independent is important, because that financial and economic freedom will allow the light in you to shine bright enough that it attracts and inspires others to do the same.
What recommendations for books, or resources that could aid ladies in creating better money habits.
I am a chartered accountant by profession, so I hardly read books with financial focus only because it's like going back to Wits. However:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad - by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter, is one even my children will read;
The Capitalist Nigger - by Chika Onyeani;
Who Moved My Cheese - by Spencer Johnson;
The Richest Man in Babylon - by George Samuel Clason
And since this should be holistic:
Start With Why - by Simon Sinek (I'm reading this for the third time)
The Alchemist - by Paulo Coelho
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - by Deepak Chopra
You go onto LinkedIn, there are various sources of free webinars to take; there’s also Udemy, which has discounted courses (requiring time investment and commitment to complete as it is not formal schooling); there’s Shaw Academy; several podcasts to listen to; there’s news (skip to financial parts if you don’t want to be depressed by politics).
How would you define your success in this lifetime, if you were standing before the hypothetical judgement seat, and you were asked to talk about the value you've brought to the world, what would it be?
I am more than certain that my success comes on the back of my great father, and phenomenal mother. Without the gift of amazing parents, I don’t think I would have been allowed to dream as a child let alone be raised to achieve those dreams at all costs, i.e. pushed to achieve my purpose, and fully supported through the hard times; yet they allowed me to take the spotlight in good times.
Despite the accolades in my profession and world travels, my definition of success is changing one child’s life for the better, and knowing that there truly is a God. I only measure my performance on this at the end of my life. For now I know that I have impacted, and or inspired teenagers, however my first love is impacting children before the teen phase.
What's the one book that you've gifted the most and why?
Funny, they are not finance related.
Love like you’ve never been hurt - by Jentzen Franklin (for this book is hard to read)
Yet, you married him - by Phindele Yende (every woman should read this book, SERIOUSLY) These two I have gifted the most because of my belief in being holistically wealthy, not just materialistically. I think the healed heart, and mind yields amazing light, and wealth.
What was your biggest personal struggle in your teenage to young adult days. What failures, or setbacks did they bring forth, and what lessons have you drawn from them if any?
I don’t think I had a teenage struggle that I could remember. My family dynamics even to this day was that I needed to be the strong sibling/child that the family can depend on, and so excelling was a given. Mind you, I had never experienced racism, or sexism until I started working in corporate SA. The struggle was being recognised for my efforts and input to the same degree as my caucasian peers. I understood what I was once told by a mentor, which my parents built in me through their actions: “Not only must you work twice as hard to have what they have, you will need to be the best in class.” I think my competitive nature was ignited by these words right there in primary. “Be wise, and listen first, then you will be ahead.”
My setback was failing CTA (Certificate in Theory of Accounting). That taught me resilience, patience, and that when what you are doing is purpose driven, giving up is never an option. Losing my sister was not only a setback, but world shattering. I decided in 2015 that I will no longer pursue business post her brutal death. 5 years later I am back full circle to fulfil the dream we had on business, that has been the purpose of my life, and the reason I still draw air. The day I stop is the day it will have been accomplished.
If you were given infinite resources on earth but were asked to do just one thing, what would it be? (This question is meant to create clarity on where your heart of hearts lies).
Build and eternally sustain a global charity called Child of Bernardin. The sole purpose is that it will be a state of the art haven for children to understand themselves, and their creator at an extremely young age, before the world starts to influence who they are, and how they see themselves. I would ask for Wisdom to lead and influence them in accordance with their design.
One thing we’ll always resonate with is how Itumeleng stressed the importance of being rich, not only financially, but in all other facets of our lives as well. This ties in so well with the vision that we as The Finance Gym have, of happier individuals and prosperous societies (to draw just a few). Being financially literate and wealthy is just one piece of the puzzle.
Our inner guidance and intrinsic relationship with ourselves is also another piece. When we cultivate the two aspects together, we move closer and closer to the goals we want to achieve, from a strong vantage point. That’s a lesson we can all draw from Itumeleng’s story.
More profiles of the future
Stay posted on the blog for weekly success profiles that help you see yourself as the holistically rich individual you’re striving to be, and share in the comments and on with your network the value you gain from this post. Someone is bound to resonate with you as we join hands in the journey to financial literacy for all.