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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Secret to Cultivating Financial Wealth

60: The Secret to Cultivating Financial Wealth

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Secret to Cultivating Financial WealthWe all have a good idea of what we think it means to be financially wealthy. I coach a lot on this subject, but I'm taking the opportunity today to break down the word wealth a little. Because to be really wealthy, it's going to take more than just having lots of cash.

There is so much that contributes to our overall wealth, and one of those things is how emotionally wealthy we are. A lot of us go through life thinking we have no control over our emotions and our experiences, and this leads to poverty, both emotionally and financially. So, I'm sharing the solution with you in today's episode.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover what it means to be emotionally wealthy. And once you start creating emotional wealth, I'm sharing the best-kept secret to cultivating financial wealth and success from a place of wealth-confidence.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What it means to be emotionally wealthy versus in emotional poverty.
  • Why we don't need to wait for financial goals or life milestones to be achieved before we're allowed to be happy.
  • What you can do to start moving from emotional poverty to emotional wealth.
  • How to take your emotional wealth and use it to cultivate what I call Wealth Confidence.
  • Why wealth-confidence is the best-kept secret to creating financial wealth.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 60. So, very recently I did a live training called How to Create Wealth Without Seeing More Patients. I hope you were there. If not, I'll probably do this live workshop again in June. And I plan to do a live workshop several more times before the end of the year.

So, if you didn't catch me, you can definitely catch me in the future. And so, one of the things I talked about during that workshop I wanted to spend a whole podcast episode on because I think it's so important to talk about.

And so, what got me thinking about this was actually a podcast episode that my business coach does, Stacey Boehman. And it was the podcast on emotional wealth versus material wealth or something like that.

And so, obviously I coach on money and I talk a lot about wealth. And usually it's in the context of material wealth or external wealth. And so, I wanted to kind of break down the word wealth a bit.

I know I've talked about it on a previous episode where I talked about how the book that's coming out this fall is called Defining Wealth for Women: Peace, Purpose, and Plenty of Cash. And I really want to focus on that peace part.

Because the reason why I chose that word is it comes from peace of mind. And to me, that represents not just peace, but emotional peace or emotional wealth. And so, emotional wealth is separate from material wealth. But when I think about the word wealth, I think of it as an all-encompassing term to not just talk about the money side, but all of it. Because what's the point of being rich if you are empty inside?

And we all know very wealthy people, like stars, actresses, musicians, famous musicians with lots of money who commit suicide because they're in emotional poverty. And so, first let's define what emotional wealth is.

And so, the way that Stacey defined it and the way that I define it are very similar. It's having agency over my brain, my emotions, and the overall experience of my life. Now, notice I said experience, and my emotions, not what my life actually is in terms of the outside stuff, the material stuff, the external stuff, like my status, how much money I have or make or weather I'm married, et cetera.

Emotional wealth is knowing deep in your bones that you do not need the house, the guy, the money to be happy and content in your life. And it's because you know that those things don't create your internal wealth, your internal happiness.

Because at the end of the day, you know that you can handle any emotion, negative and positive. It's knowing that you can think for yourself, take responsibility for yourself, and that you're able to intentionally decide what and how you want to do it. It's about knowing how to enjoy yourself, your life, no matter what the actual external circumstances are.

And it's enjoying and being present to all of it right now versus waiting for money or some other milestone, like getting married or having kids to finally enjoy your life and feel like you've actually arrived. Because newsflash, you have arrived.

Now, I know that was a lot in terms of the definition, but now let's contrast this to being in emotional poverty.

Emotional poverty is when basically you're overall not happy and you have an overall net negative experience of your life. And you think it's because life is happening to you versus for you. Those two words, to you versus for you, they really change everything.

We all know people who think that life is happening to them, they can't get a break, and that nothing is their fault. They are at the mercy of all the things happening a certain way to feel good, to feel good about themselves. They're at the mercy of how other people behave around them so that they can feel good because they aren't telling themselves what they need to hear.

And listen, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. We all have moments like this. and I'll say, as women, we're specifically socialized to place a lot of emphasis on what other people think about us, really valuing what they think of us.

And the truth is none of us go to emotion school or brain school. None of us learn how our brains work. We don't really learn how to manage our minds or emotions.

A lot of us go through life thinking we have no control over our thoughts, our emotions, and we don't know how to change our experience of the world. And so, of course, the antidote to this is what I have coined wealth confidence.

And so, what's wealth confidence? It's my fun take on emotional wealth, which I talked about already, plus self-confidence. So, emotional wealth plus self-confidence equals wealth confidence.

Now, let's define self-confidence because it's probably not what you think it is. Self-confidence is different than feeling confident. Let me explain. Self-confidence comes down to this. It's about knowing who you are, trusting yourself completely, and having your own back. Which means you have a high opinion about yourself.

Now, this doesn't mean that you're arrogant. I think a lot of people think, like, if you think highly of yourself, that's being arrogant. But being arrogant is about putting other people down to feel better about yourself and it's actually based on low self-confidence.

But self-confidence is being sure in who you are and loving yourself unconditionally. And in fact, when you're self-confident, it's like the complete opposite of being arrogant because you're not saying, “I'm awesome and you're not awesome.” You're basically saying, “I'm awesome and you're awesome too.”

And so, why am I even talking about this? What does this have to do with material wealth? Like, “Yeah, this sounds nice, but I really want the money.”

What if I told you that the key to creating lots of material wealth was actually to come into emotional wealth, into wealth confidence first? Because if you keep thinking that you're going to feel better about yourself, trust yourself, feel more secure once you have the money, that's just simply not true.

Money, at the end of the day, is a circumstance. And circumstances don't create our thoughts and feelings. Feeling secure, having peace of mind, feeling self-confident, it comes from inside. It doesn't come from the outside. And I'll tell you, it really sucks to have a lot of money and to be in emotional poverty.

And another part of wealth confidence is really being present to what you have already. Because how many of us achieve something and then we're like, we don't even stop to appreciate it because we're onto the next thing already?

Because basically it's like, “Well, it could be better. It's not good enough.” And the thing is, nothing will ever feel enough. Nothing will ever feel like you've arrived if you keep thinking that way.

And so, the problem I see in my clients who are trying to increase their self-confidence is they look to their past to see if they're allowed to feel self-confident. And like I said, self-confidence comes from within. It doesn't matter what you did or didn't do in the past.

Having self-confidence doesn't mean that you're going to crush everything in the future and never fail. It's about knowing that you are capable of achieving whatever you are capable of and also knowing that if you do fail, nothing's gone wrong and you can pick yourself back up because you have your own back. You're not relying on the external achievement to feel good about yourself. Because you already feel good about yourself.

You already know that you're 100% worthy and you don't need to do anything to show yourself that because you already have that. And when you have true wealth confidence, you really become unstoppable on being able to create whatever you want to create, accomplish, accumulate.

And of course, that includes money because here's the thing; creating wealth, lots of wealth, requires self-confidence. It requires wealth confidence. It requires you to be able to trust yourself. It requires you to be able to pick yourself up when you do fall – because you will – that you have your own back, that you can experience the negative emotions of not creating what you've created and keep going.

Otherwise, you're going to never take risk. You're going to never try something new. And then you're going to regret things 10, 20, 30 years in the future. And so, I invite all of you listening to ask yourself, “How can I create more wealth confidence today? How can I learn how to trust myself more? How can I have my own back? How do I already have self-confidence in myself? how can I create more?”

And well, of course, you know I'm going to say, the secret to that is getting coached and self-coaching and intentional thought creation. And so, I believe this episode comes out before the end of May, and so I wanted to make sure that you know that I'll be starting my live self-coaching master course starting the first week of June, or the last week of May, I think it's the same week.

And so, that is a four-part live workshop slash course I'm doing inside of Money for Women Physicians. Which is a program that helps you create not just material wealth but emotional wealth, or wealth confidence. Because they're so tried together.

And so, learning how to self-coach yourself is the first step. Learning and being aware of your thoughts and feelings that you might be having on default, and then deciding on purpose what you want to think and feel about yourself going forward. Because you get to decide what you think and feel going forward.

It doesn't matter what you have or what you don't have. There's no belief police, there's no thought police. You can think whatever you want. And so, I invite you to join the program so that you can get started and get started in the self-coaching mastery course and start creating your emotional wealth, your wealth confidence right away. I will talk to you ladies next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Right Way to Enforce Boundaries

59: The Right Way to Enforce Boundaries

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Right Way to Enforce BoundariesFor some of my clients, the concept of boundaries can be pretty difficult to understand. And the truth is, it's taken me a long time to figure out how to explain this topic in a clear and concise way. But I've seen so many people struggle in this area that it's time to break it down here on the podcast.

The most common boundary issues I see for my clients are around their family and friends asking for money. So, I'm showing you in this episode how to set financial boundaries around our personal relationships. But really, this work can be applied to any area you want to enforce a boundary in your life.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover what a boundary is, and where so many people make mistakes when implementing and enforcing boundaries. I'm sharing the how-to when it comes to setting boundaries of any kind, so if this is an area you've struggled with in the past, this short and sweet episode is exactly what you need to hear.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What a boundary is, and most importantly what it is not.
  • Where I see my clients really struggle to enforce boundaries.
  • Why understanding boundaries and being able to enforce them is so important.
  • 2 specific things we need to understand about boundaries if we're going to implement them effectively.
  • How to set up a proper boundary, enforce it, and honor yourself and the other person in the process.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 59. So, I'm super-excited about today's topic. It's a big one. And I know it's going to be so valuable to all of you listening. But before I start, I want to let you all know that starting the month of June, I am going to be teaching a live self-coaching mastery course inside my program Money for Women Physicians.

Now, of course I teach self-coaching already in the program, but this is a deep dive because my goal is for all of my clients to really learn how to self-coach themselves. This is a difference that I see in my clients who make rapid progress versus those that don't. Because training of the mind, thought work, takes daily works.

Showing up to a coaching call once a week really isn't sufficient. To really let go of those limiting beliefs, create new ones, to live into that new future that you want to live in really requires daily self-coaching. And so, I wanted to teach it again, teach it live, and really make sure that you have the skills to do this on your own.

Because really, I don't want anyone to take my program or work with me one on one thinking that I have all the answers for them. At the end of the day, with this work that I do, what I have learned is it's so important to learn how to trust yourself and listen to your inner wisdom. And the work of self-coaching gives you access to that.

So, we start the first week of June and obviously, if you can't make the live call, it's recorded. But you definitely want to join beforehand so you can get those dates in your calendar and all that fun stuff. And so, make sure you go to weaqlthymommd.com/money to learn more, join, and get the details and start with us in June for that self-coaching mastery program.

Okay, now today's topic, I want to talk about boundaries. And this is a topic that it honestly took me a long time to really figure out what a boundary is and explain it clearly so that you understand. And what I have found is that most people don't really understand what a boundary is, let alone what it really means to enforce a boundary.

And so, one of the reasons why I'm bringing this up is because I see a common situation come up a lot among my clients around money and family and friends. And so, basically today I want to talk about how to set and enforce financial boundaries. But this applies to any type of boundary that you're trying to create.

So, let me give you the common thing that I see among my clients, is basically I see a lot of my clients getting asked to contribute money or they say they feel obligated to help out a family member or friend but there's a lot of resentment and negative feelings around the whole thing. Does this sound familiar?

And this happens because most of my clients are not aware of two things. Number one, how to set and enforce a boundary. And two, really understanding and getting that other people are adults, they have agency, which means they can do whatever they want. And that means you too.

So, let's start with setting and enforcing the boundary. So, first, let's define what a boundary is and what it isn't. So, like I said, a boundary is a concept that I find is often misused and not properly understood and a lot of people think of boundaries as standing up for yourself. That is not what a boundary is.

I think the best way to conceptualize it is to think about a physical boundary. Like, if you have a house and there is a physical boundary, let's say a fence, like the demarcation of your property line. And let's say somebody crosses that boundary physically onto your property – so the boundary is the fence. The boundary violation is someone crossing the fence or climbing over, whatever, and is on your property without permission. That is a boundary violation.

Now, enforcing the boundary is where people get confused because enforcing the boundary is about what you do. It's actually not about the other person because remember, we can't control other people and they're allowed to do whatever we want.

So, a boundary formation an enforcing one is nothing about controlling other people's behavior. A boundary is about honoring yourself and being responsible for yourself. And a lot of you think it's the opposite.

So, simply, a boundary is what you will do when a boundary is violated. Notice that I didn't say it's what you will tell the violator to do once a boundary is violated. It's only about you since – and I'm going to sound like a broken record here – we cannot ever control what another person does.

I know, but wouldn't it be so much easier if we could? If we just told them what to do and they would do it? But we know that that's not what happens. And we also know that we don't like it when people tell us what to do.

So, let's go through a simple example. So, let's say you have a relative – let's just call her Sally. And every month or so, she calls and asks you for money. And every time she does that, you get really upset, talk to your husband, talk to your friends and say, “I can't believe Sally is asking me for money again. How dare she? Doesn't she know I don't want this?” and blah, blah, blah…

And then, of course, you tell Sally, “Please stop asking me for money.” And so, you think that's setting the boundary. But then you're feeling so resentful and angry and spending a lot of time on it because you're so resentful and angry because Sally keeps asking you for money.

So, what did I say? You can't control people. Sally's going to do what she's going to do. Which clearly means she's going to keep asking you for money. You can't control her. What are you going to do?

And so, enforcing the boundary could be something like this. And you get to decide. It could be something like you could say, “Sally, if you keep asking me for money, I'm going to say no and hang up the phone.”

So, notice that has nothing to do with Sally, meaning she can do whatever she wants. She can still call you or contact you. But you're telling her what you're going to do, which is, “If you ask me for money, I'm going to say no and hang up the phone.” And it's only about what you do.

Now, here's the really, really important part. You actually have to do what you said you're going to do. So, the next time Sally calls, you say no and you hang up. And if you don't do that, then people just don't believe you and you're not honoring yourself or your word. Because your responsibility is to follow through on the boundary.

Now, this is where people get into trouble because they don't want to enforce the boundary because most of us, including me, are people pleasers. Meaning we want people to like us and we don't want to be mean, we don't want to actually say no and hang up because even though we're upset they're doing that, we don't want people to think badly of us.

And so, here's the thing. You can't control them. You can't control whether people like you or not. And so, this is why honoring slash enforcing the boundary really is about you and honoring you. And notice that the boundary did not threaten the other person, did not say anything about stop doing this et cetera, because we know we can't control Sally. Of course Sally is calling to ask for money. That's what she does.

So, since people will do what they do and we can't control that, that means that they may not react well to you enforcing the boundary. And you have to know that is okay. You have to know that you have to let people be wrong about you. You have to let people be mad because the way they react really has nothing to do with you. It's about them.

They do not need to behave the way you want them to. In fact, you really need to let them be unhappy with you. Let them be wrong with you. And that, honestly, is the hardest part of enforcing a boundary because most of us, especially women, we really want people to like us.

Remember, the boundary is for you. It's not for them. At the end of the day, we cannot control other people's behavior or emotions. And you're not responsible for them either. Meaning in the case of aunt Sally, I made this situation up, you are not responsible for her financial security. You're not.

She is responsible for herself. You are not. And so, once I've truly understood the way boundaries worked and how people pleasing works, and that at the end of the day, we can try to kind of manipulate someone's opinion about us – now, manipulate is kind of a strong word but that's basically what people pleasing is, right?

The thing is, we think that if they behaved a certain way, that we would feel better about things. Like with the example with Sally, if she stopped asking me for money, then I wouldn't be upset. But that's placing all of your internal peace and happiness depending on something outside of you, on another person's behavior. It's just not a great way to live. It's powerless.

It's predicating your peace of mind, your happiness based on other people's behavior and even things like having enough money. How many of us are thinking that if we only had more money, then we would feel more secure? And so, you see how these topics really are intertwined.

And so, here is what I want to leave you with. Is there a boundary that you need to set up and enforce? Will you have the courage to enforce it? Will you have the courage to honor yourself to enforce it and to risk the relationship? Because that's' what most of us are afraid of doing; risking the relationship.

People treat us the way we treat ourselves. I know you've heard that before, but it's so true. And that's why learning about how to set up a proper boundary and enforce it is so important. Because remember, it's about you. It's about honoring yourself.

It has nothing to do with the other person. It has nothing to do with you standing up for yourself and letting people be wrong about you. That's all I have for today. I will talk to you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Why You Need an Assistant

58: Why You Need an Assistant

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Why You Need an AssistantAs I have mentioned, I spent a little time away with my mastermind in Las Vegas recently. And one thing that was a real focus of the time we spent together was our coach encouraging us to consider getting an assistant. In fact, the message was that we can't afford to live without one. And I agree with her.

Now, I have had various assistants over the past few years, and so in this episode, I'm taking the time to outline how I make use of an assistant and why I believe you should be hiring one too. I know that hiring somebody sounds like a lot of work, and getting it right is going to take a little practice, but trust me when I say that once you get going, you won't look back.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover why I believe we, as female physicians, should all have an assistant. I'm sharing how I operate in my own business and life with a personal assistant, the different options available to you, and how to find an assistant that will save you time and energy.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why I have an assistant and why I believe you need one too.
  • What we can learn from our lives as doctors about delegating in our personal lives.
  • How to see where in your life an assistant would make your day-to-day so much easier.
  • Why having an assistant has never been a more viable option.
  • The area where my assistant has freed up time for me in a way I never thought possible.
  • How to find yourself an assistant that can free up your time and energy.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode 58. So, as you guys know, I was away for about 10 days. I was in Hawaii and then I was in Las Vegas for my business mastermind. So, in case some of you do not know what a business mastermind is, because it's people in business like myself, so people define it differently.

But the way I define it is that a true mastermind is where you and others mastermind with each other led by a master. And when I say you and others, basically the members have something to contribute. We each have something to contribute and we're generally equal partners of our success and we're generally at equal ranges of income, in a business mastermind that is.

And so, I was in a mastermind called The 200K Mastermind. And now. I sort of graduated to the $2 Million Group. And right now, there's 12 of us. We're all coaches. This mastermind is only for coaches. And one thing we do, which might make you guys kind of cringe, but in business this is totally normal – and it's about money – is that we do a leaderboard, meaning that we have to report our income and it's listed from top to lowest.

Now, some of you might be like, “Oh my god that's horrible.” But to me, it's exciting. So, I'm not the top earner. I'm not the lowest earner. I'm sort of in the middle. But I love not being the top earner in the room.

You might be asking why. Now, sometimes, it doesn't feel good, I'll be perfectly honest. But by not being the top earner, I can learn so much from the other women who are making so much money.

I also love that in this business mastermind, money is celebrated. We get so excited when one of us makes money. It's not because we think making more money is better than not making money, but it's showing that it's possible and it's an example of the value that we created.

Now, I got a little off-track here but the main reason I wanted to talk about this mastermind is, so, this mastermind is for coaches who have made at least $250,000 annually inside their coaching business and they want to scale to $2 million.

And so, one of the things that we learned – this is my second three months in the mastermind – is we basically were all told that we all need to hire an assistant. Like, all of us.

Most of us had one, but not all of us had one. And the reason why is she said that you cannot be the CEO of your business and your life. And I don't mean you can't make decisions for your life, but she says you can't be managing everything in your business and managing everything at home, especially if you're a mom.

And the reason is because then your mind is so bogged down with all the decisions and the things that really keep you from thinking at a higher level. And so, this got me thinking, because I don't usually talk about me having an assistant to my clients, because most of my clients aren't necessarily in business. Some are, but most of them aren't they're employees.

And so, but I was thinking, you know, I think every female physician needs an assistant. I'm going to repeat that again. I think every female physician needs an assistant. Whether you're a breadwinner, whether you're a mom or not, you need an assistant. Yes, you too.

You do not need to be famous or a CEO or super-rich to have or need one. If you're listening to this right now, then I already know that you need one. You needed one probably years ago. And you can have one for just five hours a week.

I think a lot of people think like, “Oh, but I don't need that much help.” Or, “I can't hire someone full-time.” You don't even need to hire someone full-time. But it's not even about the time save. Because I think, when I talk about this to people, the first thing that comes to their mind is, “Yeah, I guess I would save five hours a week. Not that that wouldn't be useful, but I could still do it.”

And I just want to stop you right there because some of you are thinking this already, I know. I know it. I can hear it. It's not so much about the time you save. It's also about the mental energy.

Think about it, as doctors, depending on what you do, but even if you're not seeing 20 patients a day, you're a surgeon, we are making high level decisions all day long. That is taxing on our brain That takes up a lot of energy.

Having an assistant keeps your brain agile. It keeps your brain free to focus on the important decisions that you need to make for your work and for your family. And so, what I want to do today is go over why my assistant does for me.

So, I do have- an assistant. She's part-time. And she's my assistant in business, but she also does personal stuff for me. And actually, the original idea I had for this episode was to talk about this system that I created with her called the Digital Shitbox. More on that later though.

And so, I feel so strongly that every female physician needs an assistant. Because this makes such a huge difference for me and I know it will for you too. And then, at the end, I'm going to give you some quick tips on how to hire someone. Because that's the most common question I get when I tell people about my assistant. They're like, “Well, how do I find someone?”

Along the same vein, I have a CPA. I have a fractional CFO slash bookkeeper because there are people with a lot more expertise than me on these things. And this again frees me up to focus what I want to do, which is to coach my clients, run my business as the CEO, think about my business, and think about my clients. I think I said in an earlier episode that I consider it my job to be a think tank for my business and my clients.

Okay, so first, if I haven't convinced you already, why do I have an assistant and why should you have one too? Number one, our time is rally valuable. And to take this further, our brain time is really valuable. We only have so much valuable brain time or focus time a day. And like I said, you're a busy physician. You're making tons of high-level decisions a day, all requiring you to think at your highest level.

You need to be on top of your game. Just like you don't room your patients or you don't make appointments or answer billing questions, there are many things you don't need to do either.

I feel like we know this in terms of working as a doctor. But for some reason, we don't apply this to our non-doctor life. As a woman, as a mom, this is hard for us to do because we've been sort of conditioned to be able to do it all and it's like some kind of weird badge of honor. I want to tell you, it is not a badge of honor.

There is no prize for doing it all. None. Now, inside a business, of course, it makes sense to have an assistant. And I will liken this again to being a doctor. Your best use of your brain time as a doctor is to diagnose and make treatment plans. Someone else can literally do the rest. And I'd even go to say that someone could actually execute the treatment plan, what I mean by that is do the counseling for the treatment plan.

For example, you know, when I treat acne patients, it doesn't take me long to figure out what's going on and what they need, you know, based on a few questions and examining them. And then, I create the treatment plan.

And someone else that's well-trained could then explain to them how to take the medication. Because to me, that's actually the most important part of acne treatment, is really explaining how to use medication properly. Like, I really don't like slapping medication and being like, “Okay, this, this, and that, see you later.”

I really took the time to explain, especially if I gave them any topical medications, like, “This is how you apply it. This is what it looks like. This is how much you're going to use. This is when you're going to do it. This is what might happen.”

But that doesn't need to be me. And so, I want you to really start asking yourself, noticing throughout your day, what are things that you're doing that you really don't have to do?

Now, where you can get into trouble with this is there might be things that you actually kind of enjoy doing, so you don't mind doing them. But I want you to ask yourself, “Is this a good use of my time? Could I enjoy my life more if someone else did this?” That's a great question.

So, you might be asking yourself, “Well, what can they actually do?” Anything you can train them on, really. Any task that is repetitive or requires time for you to be on the phone.

Now, I said earlier, this includes things that you might actually like doing, but it's not a great use of your time. For example, I used to love researching travel plans, looking at the hotels, looking at the flights and piecing it all together.

I still enjoy it, but I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. And it's not a great use of my time. So, now my assistant handles that all. It's amazing. And I'm going to name a few things that she's done for me, just to give you examples of what they can do.

So, recently I got a medical bill and it didn't have all the information I needed, meaning it wasn't clear to me if it was something I had to pay. It almost looked like, “Well, maybe this is something my insurance should have covered.”

And so, I had her call to get more information. So, I have her basically – any time that I didn't have to be on the phone, because wait times et cetera, I have her do. Because sometimes, I'll change my mind about things like flights. And we all know that the wait times can be really long.

Like, one time, she had to change a flight on United and she was on the phone for two hours. And that's two hours I didn't have to spend time on the phone.

Another thing I have her do is do research. Personal research. So, for example, Jack, my toddler, he's three and a half right now. He's always doing like flips and like super-active, so I was like, “You know what? I think he'd really enjoy being in a gymnastics class.”

And so, I gave her some parameters, what I'm looking for, and I asked her if she could come up with three options for a gymnastics class and tell me why she chose them.

Now, this is something that I don't personally use her for, but when I was at my business mastermind, we were all kind of sharing what our assistants do for us. And one of the ladies shared that her assistant is local. Mine actually isn't. Mine's virtual, although I have actually met her in person.

But her assistant is local and makes sure that everything in the house is there. Meaning she doesn't run out of toilet paper. This person does her grocery orders every Sunday from Instacart et cetera and she's like, “Yeah, I know it doesn't take that long to order things on Instacart but if I don't have to think about it, that's amazing.” And so, I could see that be useful for a lot of you ladies.

Okay, so now I want to talk about the Digital Shitbox that I use with my assistant, and also Matt, and we use this for, and we use this for both personal and business stuff.

So, first, what is a Digital Shitbox? So, the name kind of came from this. All of us have a physical junk drawer. I'm not the only person who has one. And maybe we have multiple junk drawers or multiple junk boxes.

So, in my household, we have called that the Shitbox. And we have multiple Shitboxes. Although, I've really tried to pare it down to like one. And if it gets full, we have to throw something away.

And then, I came up with this concept of a Digital Shitbox because one thing that I really struggled with, and I'm guessing a lot of you too, is dealing with all the bullshit paperwork that comes up that you need to keep track of. You're like, “Yeah, I need to scan this.” And I would have piles of paper to be scanned and it would never get scanned.

Because some of these things, I couldn't just put them through the document feeder. We have a printer that also serves as a scanner and it has like a feeder thing. But if it wasn't the regular size, it would have to be manually scanned and I'd be like, “I don't have time for this right now.” And I'd put it in this pile and this pile would just get bigger and bigger. And oftentimes, it wouldn't get done until it had to get done, like for tax time for example.

And so, another thing is Matt and I have – our health insurance has an HSA or Health Savings Account and so we keep all the receipts. We don't often get reimbursed, but we want to have them on file so we can get reimbursed later because we invest our HSAs. And so, those receipts were piling up and then for business, receipts were piling up and I was like, “Okay…”

And this assistant I've had for about three months now so I was like, “You know, I have an assistant. How can I make this easy for me and how can she help me with this?”

Because I used to think, “Well, she can't really help me with this unless she lives here because I still have to scan all these freaking receipts,” and I get annoyed, as you can tell. And so, as soon as I asked myself, “How could this be easy,” one of my favorite questions to ask whenever I'm feeling stuck – I just had a lightbulb moment and the answer was so obvious I feel even kind of dumb sharing with you guys.

But have you noticed sometimes you get so stuck that there's no solution, that we can't see the solution until we literally pause and ask, what if there is a way to make this easy? And so, what I realized is, on my iPhone – I have an iPhone, but this would work if you have an Android too. So, I have a Dropbox account and you can download the Dropbox app on your phone and you can literally take a picture of the receipt and upload it to Dropbox.

So, what I specifically do is I don't take a picture. I do the scan function and it basically takes a picture but it converts it to a PDF and it's able to smartly figure out the outline of the receipt, although sometimes I have to fix it, and then I upload it specifically to a folder. We call it the Shitbox. It's basically a Digital Shitbox. But whatever you want to call it. If you don't like curses you can call it your junk drawer, box, whatever you want to call it.

But basically a holding folder for all the stuff that you need to scan but you don't want to deal with. And then, my amazing assistant, once a month, goes through it and puts it in the right place. So, if it's a business thing, she puts it in the business folder and we have a specific way we label them. We label it by date and the subject, so it's sort of easy to find. We don't have to keep opening things.

Because what I did previously is I would upload things and I never change the name so it would be the weird default name tat Dropbox or my phone saved and then I could never find it because I never labeled it correctly.

So, all I do is take a quick scan picture with Dropbox. When I say scan picture, I mean scan into a PDF, make sure it gets uploaded to my Shitbox folder. And then, once a month, she goes through it and she clears it and she knows – I've trained her on which receipt goes to what. So, if it's a HAS receipt, she labels it by date and the person, so whether it's me, Matt, or Jack. If it's a business receipt and it's specifically for a business trip, she puts it in a specific folder for each trip. And other things, like other important documents that might come in the mail.

And so, you need to sit down with your assistant or really just sit down with yourself and figure out, “How do I want these documents organized?” Because the last thing you want to do when you need to find something is, well, spend the time to find it. You waste so much time and it's so frustrating.

Okay, I think you guys can tell this is getting me really excited because when I discovered this I was like, “Oh my god, this is amazing.” So, I did have to spend some time kind of backtracking, because as I mentioned before, I had piles and piles of paper. But it actually was so much quicker than using my actual scanner and the quality is totally fine.

And so, I think I spend, honestly, like 30 minutes taking pictures. And then, once I was done, now I just do it as they come and it's like two seconds and I don't have to think about filing it because she takes care of it for me. Every once in a while, she'll have a question about where things should go. But otherwise, it's pretty seamless.

Okay, back to you. I want you to start making a list of what you would love to offload. I want you to spend some time thinking about this purposely. So, if you're like me and you like to jot things down, on my iPhone, I would make a file in your notes and just start typing in things. Whenever you notice, like, “Hey, this is something I can offload to an assistant,” that's where you should start.

And then, whenever you see yourself doing something repetitive or something that you know an assistant can do, I want you to write it down. And then, depending on what it is, you may even want to record yourself doing that thing, like a screencast on your computer, if it's something like on your computer for example.

There's a program called Loom. And it lets you do this for free, like a screencast. But it's only up to five minutes. And if you have a business like I do, it's definitely worth investing in a screencast software like this. it's a great way to train employees.

So, let me give you an example of how this could be useful, the screencast, for a personal thing. So, not anymore, but in Jack's old daycare, we had to specifically order his lunches. And so, every month, I had to log into this website and it was super-annoying because I had to click on each day. Because of course, they selected everything including the juice box and the cookie and I would always unselect the cookie and the juice box. And I might change the food around if I knew it was something he wouldn't like.

And so, I had to spend time literally each day clicking on these things. So, this is something I could record as a screencast and I would talk while I'm doing it so they could see what it looks like. And I could say, this is how I want it done. And then, I can share that screencast with my assistant.

And let's say this is an ongoing thing because the thing is, once you get bought into hiring an assistant – and I'll talk more about how to do that in a bit – just like nannies, you might go through different nannies or different assistants. It might take some time.

And so, by doing a screencast, you save yourself the time to train them. So, this is a great example of something tedious that I can delegate and I just record myself doing it, and so it's much easier for them to learn than me trying to explain it to them, right?

Now, I'm betting some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but these things, they don't take a lot of time and I can do them.” But that's not the whole point. Remember, they take up your brain time and your attention. And what I see a lot, including myself and my clients, is we get like decision fatigue from all the little tiny tasks hanging out in your brain in the back of your brain, like, “I've got to do this…”

It's like this nagging feeling that there's something else to do. Wouldn't it be so much nicer to come home from work and, like, be able to really relax your brain? All these little things, even though they're not, like, hard or take up a lot of time, they're really taxing on your brain because there's something called task switching.

Every time you're switching between tasks – there's no such thing as multitasking. I'm sure you guys know this already. And every time you're switching between different types of tasks, it's extremely taxing for their brain or it really slows you down.

And I know all of you would love to have some more time just to relax, hang out with your family, have time for yourself. I have no desire to win the trophy for the mom who did everything; bake the cakes, bring Jack to and from school, do the laundry, have a perfectly clean bathroom, run my business. Remember I said, there is no reward for doing it all. None.

Okay, now I want to leave you with a few tips for hiring and managing. Now, I could probably do a whole episode on this, and maybe I will if there's interest. Because I see a lot of people getting frustrated in hiring and managing.

And I see this a lot with nannies, because we're also perfectionists. Because I can do it better and faster. Yeah, maybe, but that also means you're still doing it.

And you could have a lot more free time and have a lot more enjoyment, impact on family, personal life, and your work. Okay, so, how do you actually find someone?

So, I kind of think of it as two different ways to hire. If you do not have the desire to actually do the hiring, because that is actually a skill, then you may want to go through an agency or even care.com, although you still have to do the screening.

There are agencies, but obviously you're going to pay for that, because you're paying someone else to kind of do the legwork for you. But I think that's perfectly fine. And people get all hung up on, “Well, it costs more.” But yeah, you're paying so that you don't have to spend the time to do it.

So, I really want you to start changing your mindset. It's not so much like the money I'm spending, it's what is this going to give back to me time-wise? And not even just time-wise, but enjoying my life time as well.

So, if you have no desire, you may want to go through an agency. So, one agency I've used in the past is Belay. I actually don't' know if they specifically will help you find a personal assistant, but I think so.

I would say the main downside of an agency is not even so much higher cost. But also that assistant gets paid a lot less because usually the agency is taking a big cut. But I think, if this is going to help you get started faster, then do it.

The second thing is to ask around. Maybe there's another fellow physician mom or mom friend or physician friend that has a part-time assistant or help that could use some more hours. And this is actually how I found – she wasn't my assistant but I called her my part-time organizer back in Philadelphia. I think I posted in the local doc mom group about this. And this mom, her husband had this incredible ability to hire amazing people. And so, this person would come a few days a week, because she worked for this other family. And she would just come and organize things, take things out of the dishwasher, fold things, do laundry, and put away Jack's toys. And that was just – it was so nice to come home to a clean, organized apartment.

She didn't clean for us, but she organized. And so, I think that's also a great way to find someone as well. Now, I have gone through quite a few assistants I've learned a lot. I've done training on how to hire.

And when you hire someone, you really want them to apply and you want to have some tasks or even a test project to see if it's going to work. So, just for example, for a personal thing, you could have them plan a family trip, for example, so you can see how they think.

And when you do hire them, you want to be really specific with your contract that it's a trial period for 30 days and that you can fire at will, basically.

And then two other tips I want to leave you with are some of you might be asking, how do you give them personal information? How do you trust them?

Now, this is where you've got to check references, you've got to do a background check. So, I do a background check where it checks their credit and all that kind of jazz. And I do I talk to the references. And we use LastPass, which is a password manager. And so, I can share logins with her without actually sharing the password and I can easily revoke it as well.

Now, the last thing I want to say is your assistant cannot read your mind. And this is what I hear a lot from my perfectionist clients is, “They're not doing a good job.” And we often think they should just be able to figure it out. That does not work. They cannot read your mind. But they can, if you write it down. They can, if you do a screencast on how you do things.

I used to get so frustrated with my previous assistants. I think I really expected them to read my mind. And I'm sort of laughing and also feeling a little bad inside now because now I understand how ridiculous that expectation was.

I just didn't know any better. And so, you have to be willing to train your assistant. And that will take time. And you might be thinking, “But I don't have time.” But this is going to save you so much time later. And you have to be willing to give feedback and not think twice about it. And just think of it as you're training them to your specifications. You can train them to also think the way you want to think, really.

Okay, well I hope I've inspired you to at least consider hiring an assistant and I want you to start thinking about all the ways they could help you. Take a few weeks to figure out what kind of tasks you could offload. And then just start. Start by hiring. You might not find the right person. It's kind of like dating, if I'm perfectly honest, meaning you might meet a lot of frogs, or you might meet the right person immediately.

And so, I can't wait to hear how much more time you're going to have, how much more you're going to enjoy your life because you're not spending all of your time doing little things that really don't need your attention. Okay, I will talk to you ladies next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode an don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | (Part 2) Women Breadwinners

57: (Part 2) Women Breadwinners

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | (Part 2) Women BreadwinnersIn this week's episode, I'm carrying on the conversation I started last week in my interview with Alison Armstrong about women breadwinners. So many female physicians, myself included, are the sole earner in their family. So, whether you're the breadwinner and have a partner at home, or you're a single mom, I want you to listen closely this week.

I see so much suffering around being a female breadwinner, when really, if we wanted to, we could see it as a badge of honor. Instead, I see it leading to challenging thoughts, and over time, growing into resentment over the situation. But that kind of thinking isn't serving anyone, and in this episode, I'm giving you a new lens through which to view your role as the breadwinner in your family.

Join me on the podcast this week as I share the three sentences I use to empower myself when I start to feel negatively about being the sole earner in my family. I'm discussing how we add unnecessary stress to our already busy lives, and how to observe your thoughts before they get out of hand and start to strain your relationship, which is a very real possibility for all of us.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why female physicians typically feel so much stress and pressure around being the breadwinner in their family.
  • How I see women unknowingly adding to the pressure they're already feeling in this situation.
  • What you can do to observe your thoughts before they negatively impact your relationship.
  • 3 sentences that make me feel proud and accomplished as a female breadwinner, instead of pressured and stressed.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

 

Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 57. How is everyone doing? So, I just got back from a 10-day trip. I went to Hawaii and then I went to Las Vegas. So, Hawaii was a solo trip, meaning I went without Matt or Jack, literally by myself for five nights in Oahu, and then I went to Las Vegas for another four nights or so to meet with my business mastermind, which I'll talk about probably in the next episode a bit.

And so, people have been asking me, why did you go alone? How did you do that? And why? And it kind of struck me, because I know a lot of moms, so many of my friends actually who have really never taken time for themselves, whether it's without their kids or even by themselves to get away.

And this is something I've always sort of done. Like, not so much taking an actual vacation by myself, but I've always been pretty good about going out to see friends and doing things without my partner and without Jack. And I've been doing that since he was a newborn.

And part of that is I have an amazing support system. I have Matt. I have my mom, who lives nearby. And so, I have a lot of support. And I also know how important it is for me to spend time with myself, or time with Matt without Jack to reconnect.

And so, what I was doing in Hawaii was I was literally by myself most of the time. I did meet up with friends twice, but that was it over the five nights. I was by myself. I went to breakfast and dinner by myself. I usually didn't eat lunch. It' shard for me to eat three meals a day and the breakfast was included, so of course, I had to have that.

But yeah, I went to all the meals myself and that wasn't a problem. I really enjoyed being by myself. I think the first meal or two, I felt a little awkward because I'm pretty sure I was the only solo traveler there. Everyone there was with their significant other or with their family. And I think I pretty much was the only person there.

But after a meal or two, I got used to it and I really enjoyed my own company. And so, I'm wondering, how many of you ladies enjoy the company of just yourself? Do you enjoy yourself? That's something I've really been working on and ironically that's the coaching I got on my business mastermind, is that I need to work on enjoying my life more.

And it's something I've been thinking about because I coach female physicians and we're so conditioned to just work, work, work, and we are basically told that it's an honor to work so much, for medical school, for residency. And I am a dermatologist, so we didn't work nearly as many hours as the surgeons. But it's like a badge of honor to work 40, 60, 80, 100 hours a week.

And is it? Do we still want to think that way, that it's an honor to work all the time? What if it's an honor to work less and to enjoy our life? Anyway, I had so many new ideas from my time in Hawaii that I'll share with you over the next few podcast episodes. But I just came back and I just wanted to share with you my initial thoughts.

The next thing I want to say, before we get into the main podcast episode today, which is on female breadwinners, part two, is that depending on when you're listening to this, as of April 26th, enrolment is open for my free live workshop How to Create Wealth Without Seeing More Patients.

And this free workshop is May 6th, which is Thursday, at 8PM Eastern. And so, you definitely want to sign up for this. I'm going to be teaching all the money secrets that every woman physician needs to know right now to create more freedom and more enjoyment in your life right now, without actually having to change the money in your actual accounts.

To sign up for that, go to wealthymommd.com/workshop. The link will also be in the show notes, and you can also go to my main website, wealthymommd.com and you'll see a link up top to sign up. I can't wait to see you there.

Okay, so today, this is part two of talking about female breadwinners. So, the last episode, I had a special guest. I had Alison Armstrong. I hope you enjoyed that episode. That was, I have to say, it was super cool for me to have her on the show. And in case you didn't listen to it yet, I met Alison in my early 20s. I'm 43 right now. So, 20 years ago I met her because I took one of her courses. And so, it was kind of like an amazing full circle to have her on the show and to really get her insight on the psychology of women in relationships.

So, today, I really want to continue the conversation because a lot of my clients, including myself, we are the breadwinner, and we might be the sole earner in our families. And I just see a lot of suffering around it. It's not usually seen as a badge of honor. So, whether you're the breadwinner of you and your spouse, or if you're the only earner as a single mom, this episode is for you.

Now, I'm really narrowing in specifically about being a breadwinner. But as we all know, women physicians, especially if you're also a mom, we have a lot of other stuff going on. And of course, this all contributes to some general unhappiness.

So, let's talk about the definition of a breadwinner. You know I love looking up these things and the history and telling you guys all about it. So, the definition I found is someone who works and earns money for their family, typically the sole or primary earner. The term breadwinner comes from the UK in the early 1820s.

Now, I found a few origins of where it came from. And one source said that people used to be paid in bread rather than actual currency. And then another source said it kind of started in the 19th century because bread was a staple food item for many families, and so the breadwinner was simply the family member who brought home the bread.

And what I have found after coaching thousands of female physicians is that most of my breadwinning clients are stressed and they feel a lot of pressure. Sound familiar?

Now, in the previous episode you heard Alison and I talk about the breadwinner dynamic. Now, we were talking in a hetero-normal couple, and how common thought errors can lead down a dangerous path if you start conflating being the main earner as the gatekeeper of the money, or conflating money with power, or as the ultimate decision-maker. I want you to think about that for a second.

How many of you who are listening right now will sort of wield that decision power because you are the sole earner? I'm not pointing it out to make you feel bad. I just want you to notice if you find yourself thinking that way, that you have the ability to veto spending because you are the sole or main earner.

Now, not all breadwinners are going to have negative feelings about being the breadwinner, of course. But I find that he majority of my clients do. So, a lot of them feel a lot of pressure. And they come from thoughts like, “I have to make money.”

Any thought or sentence in your head that begins with, “I have to make money,” or something like that, check in with yourself. How does that feel? I'm pretty sure it doesn't feel good. Feeling pressured never feels good to me. It feels urgent.

This leads to a lot of stress as well. And what I often see over time is then my clients often feel resentful. Which is basically the emotion that eventually becomes anger. I think resentful is basically anger. It's just a muted form of it. And then, when you start feeling resentful, especially if you're in a couple situation, that just creates all sorts of problems in the relationship.

And so, once concept that I think I spoke about – I had an episode on relationships. So, the concept that I talked about there is called the manual. And so, in case you're not familiar with this concept, the manual is a concept that we have a manual of how other people should behave.

Now, I'm talking about if you're a breadwinner and you have a partner. So, you have this manual of how they should behave. And if they follow your manual, you will feel better.

So, here's a problem with the manual. There are two problems. Number one is that the manual is often very thick and long with lots of footnotes and appendices. And you never gave it to the person. So, they don't even know the manual that you're judging them by.

The second thing that doesn't work about the manual is that we can't control other people and other people's behavior does not create our feelings. I'm going to repeat that again because I know a lot of us, including myself, so I'm calling myself out too, we think that of only our partner behaved this way instead of that way, it would make us feel better. We would feel better. We would be happier.

And because we think that way, we become resentful. And feeling resentful becomes feeling angry and even having contempt for your spouse. And I forget the name of the relationship person, but the really famous guy who wrote, not the Four Love Languages. I think he wrote the Men Are from Mars, Men Are From Venus, he actually said that contempt is the biggest marker of why a marriage will fail, or something like if there is contempt within a marriage, that is basically a sign that it's doomed.

And so, you can easily see that feeling pressure and stress about being the breadwinner, which then leads into feeling resentful towards our partner, eventually leads to anger and contempt. And then, you start having thought errors like, “I'm better off without him.”

Now, I'm not a relationship coach so I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of that kind of stuff, but you can see that it doesn't even really matter what that person is doing because everything I'm talking about right now is about what you're thinking and how you're feeling because of what you're thinking.

It really has nothing to do with the other person. And so, how else can you think about being the breadwinner of your family? It's not that those other thoughts like, “I have to make money…” or whatever. It's not that those things aren't necessarily true. But are they useful for you? Do they feel good? They don't.

And I'm not trying to get you to just feel better to feel better. But which beliefs, which sentences would feel empowering? What would make you feel proud and accomplished?

So, here are three that I like to practice. And like all of you, I'm human. I still have a human brain, which means I still will have sentences go through my head about feeling resentful towards Matt. And actually, that's one thing that I really worked on when I was in Hawaii. I spent a lot of time just observing my thoughts.

And this is something that I teach my clients inside Money for Women Physicians. I really teach you how to observe your thoughts. Because what happens a lot is you think something and you just automatically believe it. Versus noticing the thoughts that pop up and understanding that they're optional, and that if you want to create a richer, happier, a much more enjoyable experience of life, it just means you need to think on purpose.

And so, when you catch yourself thinking thoughts that really make you feel disempowered, pressured, resentful, angry, contempt, what else could you think on purpose. And so, here are the three that I like to think.

I get to be the breadwinner. I love being the breadwinner. What a privilege it is to be the breadwinner. These thoughts make me feel empowered, even compelled and make me feel proud. And then, when I spend some time really sort of sinking into those feelings of feeling proud, compelled, accomplished, I'm then able to see things I haven't been able to see if I was spending all my time feeling resentful or pressured and stressed.

For example, me being able to retire Matt has allowed us to really create a life where we can do what we want, including me going to Hawaii for five nights because I don't have to worry about Matt taking off time from work.

Our son Jack has some speech delay. And so, right now he goes to two schools. And the first school is from eight to 11AM and then he goes to a private preschool from 11AM to whatever, 4PM or 5PM. And Matt is able to drive him to school and do all those pickups.

Like, it doesn't seem like a big deal to be able to have that, but it's huge. But if I focus on all the things he's doing wrong, which are my thoughts anyway, it just creates resentment. Of course it does.

Now, previously, I wasn't able to see. I just didn't have the tools to understand that my thoughts were creating those really negative feelings. So, this is what I want to suggest for those of you listening about how you feel about being – whether you're the breadwinner or whether you're the sole earner because you're single, a single mom, whatever, what are your thoughts about being the only earner?

Write them all out. Spend like 10 minutes. Take out your journal. Write down everything that pops into your head. Now, sometimes I have trouble with this. But what I can tap into is, what am I feeling? When I think about being the only earner for my family, or maybe I'm just by myself, how do I feel about that? What are the top three feelings that pop up for me? I'll write those down. And then sometimes I can reverse engineer, what are those thoughts?

Sometimes, it's helpful to do it that way instead of identifying the thoughts first. Or, if you're sort of visual like I am, maybe you have images that pop up in your mind about being the only earner. What kind of images pop up? What sort of experience do those images create for you? Start there.

And then, I want you to take some time to think about what would you rather feel about being a breadwinner? What would you rather think? And it's important for me to say that I don't want you to beat yourself up if you're having very negative thoughts and feelings about being the sole earner, especially if a lot of those thoughts are directed at your partner.

Don't beat yourself up about it. It is never useful. I want you to be kind to yourself, and then really spend some time thinking, “Do I want to feel this way about my partner?” And here's an important question that I've had to ask myself, “Would I rather be right or happy about this?”

Well, that's all I have for you guys today. I will talk to you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | (Part 1) Women Breadwinners with Alison Armstrong

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | (Part 1) Women Breadwinners with Alison ArmstrongWelcome to the first in a two-part series focusing on women breadwinners. As the breadwinner in my family, this is a subject close to my heart. I've also seen so many of the same common hang-ups coming up for my clients, and as female physicians, I think it's incredibly important that we address them over the next couple of episodes.

To talk about the complex relationship dynamics facing female breadwinners and their partners, I have relationship expert Alison Armstrong on the show. I first came across Alison and her work 20 years ago now, and when I came across her again recently reading a book on this exact subject, I knew she'd have some real pearls of wisdom to share with all of you.

Tune in this week as Alison and I discuss the unique challenges that women breadwinners face, the mistakes we often make, and how we can have an overall better and a more fulfilling experience if we take the time to work on ourselves and our relationship.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The unique challenges women face when they take on the role of the breadwinner in the family.
  • Where the instinctual calculations we are wired to make as humans impact us as female breadwinners.
  • Why trying to force your partner to be more helpful or accountable in the way you want them to is setting you both up to fail.
  • How to address the balance of accountability in your relationship, so everything gets done and you can still respect each other as equal partners.
  • The biggest mistakes Alison sees breadwinning women make with their partners.
  • Alison's top tips to set you up for success in your relationship as a breadwinning woman.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hey, everyone. So, for this and the next episode, I'm doing a special two-part series on being a woman breadwinner. Now, this is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I'm a breadwinner too. And I've just noticed some common things come up over and over again for my clients who are breadwinners.

And so, I actually have a special guest for today. And then the following episode, I'm going to spend some time sort of discussing the common thought errors I see among breadwinners and share some ways to reframe your thinking around being a breadwinner.

So, today's guest is Alison Armstrong. Now, you probably don't know who she is. And you're probably wondering, “Why did I pick her?” So, fun story. So, I'm 43. And I think on a previous episode, I talked about how I had done some previous personal development in my early 20s. I think I was 23. So, we're talking 20 years ago.

And so, I had learned about Alison Armstrong through that earlier work I had done. So, who is Alison Armstrong? She is an expert on women and their relationships with men. She's been studying this since 1991. She is an expert in understanding men and understanding women's behavior and how to bridge that gap.

And so, I actually met Alison in my early 20s when she used to do live seminars. Now, all of her courses are now virtual, and this was pre-covid. And so, the program I took was called Understanding Men, Celebrating Women.

Now, I had sort of forgotten about Alison for many years until I read this book called When She Makes More. This is a book by Farnoosh Torabi, who many of you may know as the podcast host of So Money. And she's also been on TV and she's a financial education expert. And so, she wrote a few books. But I read this book called When She Makes More. And as you guessed it, it's about being the female breadwinner. She talks about sort of the social aspects of it and gives you some tips.

As I was reading this book, I saw her reference Alison several times. And then, I remembered, “Oh, that's the lady who taught that course 20 years ago.” And something else kind of fun happened. You know, my friends Letizia Alto and Kenji Asakura of Semi-Retired MD, they attended a relationship seminar and Alison was one of the teachers there.

And so, then I thought, “Wouldn't it be amazing to have Alison on the show to kind of share her expertise about female breadwinners?” Because I think this is just something a lot of us female physicians struggle with. And it doesn't have to be this way.

So, I'm super-excited to have Alison on the show today to share her wisdom with us. And so, we'll link in the show notes how to get in touch with Alison, but you are in for a treat. And then, I'll see you in the next episode to talk more about the mindset of breadwinning women.

Bonnie: Welcome to the show, Alison Armstrong.

Alison: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Bonnie: Yeah, I am super-excited. And I already told everyone how I know you, so this is kind of like a nice little full-circle for me. And so, the reason why I wanted you to come on the show was to help female physicians who tend to be the breadwinners in their relationship, how we can be more successful in our relationships. So, that's kind of the premise of what I want to talk about today.

Alison: Okay, yeah, happy to do that.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I thought the first thing we could talk about is, why do you think breadwinning women have challenges?

Alison: Oh boy. There's challenges that we have because of how we are, because of our instincts. And then, there's challenges we have because of we did, and there's challenges we have because of what our partners did. So, which one do you want me to talk about first?

Bonnie: Yeah, well I took some notes because one of the reasons why it sort of tripped my brain to contact you is I've read Farnoosh Torabi's book, When She Makes More. And you were quoted several times, so I pulled out a few things that I think might help guide the conversation.

So, one of the things that I read that I think is really important to talk about is – and this is directly from the book quoting you, “When a woman starts making more money than her husband, the cavewoman within starts to think, am I better off with or without him?” And you say it's an unconscious thing and it's lethal, so why don't we start with that?

Alison: Ah, very good. Yeah, better off with and better off without, they're instinctual calculations that both men and women make. So, for example, in a man choosing a mate, what he thinks the accountability of being married is and what it will require of him and would he be better off with a wife, and then would he be better off with this person?

So, there are men who decide never to get married because they don't think they'll be better off. And then there are men that want to get married but they haven't met the woman that they think they'll be better off with. And there's conscious and unconscious calculations, and they exist in different domains.

So, what I mean by that is there's better off in a strictly cavewoman, caveman level. Like, “Am I better able to survive by being with this person?” And that's what compels women to get married and stay married. It's ancient, “I'm better off. He'll protect me. And – protect me from the tiger that,” you know, whatever the form the tiger is now.

But there's also, are you better off as the kind of human being you get to be? So, for example, there was a time we were approaching our 20th anniversary. And my cavewoman was saying that I was better off without my husband. That from purely a survival standpoint, I was making almost all of the money. He was contributing some money from his retirement. But he'd stopped working for almost a year and he was sitting around watching television.

Which I thought he would do for a little while and then he'd, like, recover from the stress of his career and get busy, but he hadn't. So, that sense of pulling your weight, “If I'm doing all the work and making all the money, why am I also doing all the cooking and taking care of the house and paying the bills and all those functions? What are you going to take off my plate?”

And this is interesting because it has a lot to do with accountability. And that's a way that another human being can help us be better off. If they help us, yeah, that's nice. If they be accountable for that, so it's not my problem at all – I remember screaming at Greg once. He's like, “How can I help you?”

This is when our older daughter was just a little baby. I was like, “I don't want you to help me. I want this to be not my job.” And so, he's awesome because any time I hit that wall, like I need this to be not my job, when he was working full-time and I was the stay-at-home mom and I was going crazy, Saturday afternoons, the children were his job.

So, noon until dinner time, they were his job. And I got to relax. If they come to me for something, I'd say, “You're not my job. Go ask dad.” And it saved us. It saved us that distinction between, “I don't want more help with what's mine. I want it to not be mine.”

And so, that's something I think that we need to get clear about and we need to have really honest conversations about. So, there's better off just in terms of the workload that life is. And then there's better off in the kind of person that you get to be.

And I married Greg in the first place because I loved the Alison that showed up around Greg. How he spoke to me, how he listened to me, how he looked at me, how he touched me, who I was for him. And if anybody – there's a sample of understanding women on our website. And if you watch that sample, I'm talking about Greg. And I didn't realize this until I was editing it after he'd died that the camera had, like, panned to Greg in the back of the room when I was talking about him.

And he has this look on his face, and it's the look he always had. He was just the most fascinating, amazing creature that there was ever. And we'd been married, I don't know, 25 years at that point, 24, 25 years.

So there's better off economically. There's better off in survival. There's better off in sharing the load of work that there is to do in life. And there's better off in, “I'm a better person. I like who I am because of this person.” And it started this trade off.

Like, I don't need to have a husband who's making as much money as I am, but we never get to be with each other, or we're both exhausted, and so I don't get to be with the guy who brings out the best version of me. So, we have to weigh these decisions.

And like we talk about in being extraordinary as a woman, do you work for your lifestyle or does your lifestyle work for you. And I know physicians – I know part-time physicians because they would rather have a life that worked for them, than that they spent all their time in their practice supporting a lifestyle that they rarely have time to enjoy.

Bonnie: Yeah, a work-life balance is definitely a huge topic among female physicians. I wanted to explore a little bit more deeper what you said about holding men accountable and not helpful. And that's something I also read in Farnoosha's book, that distinction. So, can we talk a little bit about that.

And I think what I thought was really good to go over is how us as women, we're primarily motivated by people pleasing, staying out of trouble. We don't want people to think badly of us, and that we sort of subconsciously think this might motivate men, but it doesn't, and men are motivated to kind of win for their women and they want to feel like they're providing something.

Because what I hear a lot from other female physicians – and I'm guilty of this too – is I'll often get – so Matt is my partner – I'll often get annoyed at him and then I'll criticize that he's doing something wrong and not doing it the way I'd want it to be and that…

First of all, that doesn't work whether you're a man or a woman, because we don't want that happening to us. Maybe we could talk a bit about why that really doesn't work with men and what's a better way to talk about it?

Alison: You covered a lot of ground there. And holding men accountable, that's a particular way of putting something. And accountability and being held accountable are not the same thing. So, we can put a pin in that and come back to it.

But what you said, I would never say and I would never tell a woman to do. Not without a whole bunch before that. Because as you know, from having participated in what's now our Understanding Men course online, women attempt to hold men accountable all the time, like over and over and over again.

We try to hold them accountable for behaving like we would, for doing the things the way that we would do it or a woman would do it, for listening the way a woman listens, for responding the way we respond. We hold their feet to the fire all the time.

We try to hold them accountable. And they mostly refuse to be held accountable or they become self-emasculating and they try to act like a woman. And then we sense their weakness, because that's what happens when they're emasculated. And it creeps us out. It's such a turn off.

So, accountability is a way of being. So, accountability is a way someone's being, and when they're being that way, they're like, “I got this,” that's a huge contribution. But you can't make someone accountable. They actually have to choose that accountability. They have to say, “Let me have it. I've got this. Let me do it.” And you have to let them make their own plan for doing it.

And you can say “These are the results I need you to produce or I won't be able to let it go. I'll micromanage it. I'll still not sleep at night. I'll be over your shoulder and I'll be criticizing and judging you. But if you make a plan that produces these results, it will be a tremendous gift.”

So, accountability – we'll call it accountability and trusting. So, it's in our partnership level work. And it's this dance of setting somebody up to win and expressing what it is you really need and expressing appreciation and finding out what they need, to give you what you need. We talk about it in the Queen's Code. We talk about it in all of our online courses.

And it's an art. And it begins actually when you're just dating, to see if they'll be accountable, as in count-on-able, as in please hold me to account, holding me to account shows me that you know who I am and that you respect what I said and that I agreed to that. So, it's a beautiful, beautiful thing when it's done in partnership and out loud.

It's a terrible thing when it's actually just people trying to enforce their expectations. And that's what causes so many disasters, because we try to enforce our expectations all the time. So, thank you for letting me clean that up.

And criticism doesn't work for men or for women. And it doesn't work for women – if we're in what I call gathering mode, so we're in a state of mind and heart when we're connected to possibilities, if we're criticized, it hurts our feelings. And anywhere from small hurt feelings to ending up having a rage monster about it, which is something we teach in Understanding Women.

And for men and for women in hunting mode – and this is also tied to menstrual cycles, depending on where we are in our cycle, we're shielded more from criticism. And so, we're more like how a man is most of the time. And this is something else we teach in Understanding Women, but there's actually five layers of protection that men have from criticism.

And the first one is single focus. So, they often don't even hear it. But the second one is they consider the source. And this is how wives can crush their husbands. That she has credibility with him and what she's saying about him doesn't fit who knows himself to be or what he's done for her for the last 10, 20, 30 years or what he's committed to. Like, he's accused of not loving her and not respecting her and thinks of all the things he's done because he loves her and respects her. Men can be crushed by criticism.

And it won't change their behavior in terms of doing the thing that they were criticized for not doing. It just has them keep their distance. It has them shut down emotionally and physically. Like they're not available to be intimate. And they might be sexual, but they're not intimate. So, it has disastrous results on both sides.

Bonnie: Yeah, well I definitely know the single focus thing, I feel like I'll say something to Matt and he, like, it's like he didn't even hear it.

Alison: He actually didn't hear it. His brain screened it out because it was irrelevant to what he was working…

Bonnie: Yeah, and women, we think we're – well, I don't think anyone's truly multitasking, but I think we're not as single-focused as men, I guess, is the best way to describe it.

Alison: I would disagree with you. Again, depending on our cycle and depending on if she's committed to a result or if she has – it has a lot to do with time for women. If we think we don't have enough time, I used to call it man mood back in the days that you did the workshop. If we don't think we have enough time, we become curt, short-tempered, our brains screen out anything that's irrelevant to the result that we've got to produce and not enough time to produce it.

So, things that we would normally pay attention to, certain details for courtesies, people's feelings – I get really focused because of my commitments and because I take bioidentical testosterone replacement. So, I can cause myself to focus intently. But it's still nothing compared to the compartmentalization that testosterone does to a man's brain.

And one of my favorite studies was a bunch of men who agreed to take estrogen. And what estrogen did to their brains within three days, every one of them begged to be let out of the study or just plain quit because of the amount of input their brain was now open to, and it was unfiltered, had them feel crazy. And I call it diffuse awareness.

Bonnie: What do you call that again?

Alison: Diffuse awareness.

Bonnie: I was not aware of this study. I know that testosterone can definitely cause the increased focus, but I didn't know that men actually took estrogen.

Alison: They did. They did, and it's one of the things that happens, like new moms. Their hormones have gone wild and the amount of input, their brain can barely filter it until they feel overwhelmed. And it's that overwhelm that causes multitasking because everything is saying, “Do me. Put me away. Make me pretty. Wash me. Change me. Fix me.” Everything is saying, “Me, me, me, me, me.” And that's a function of diffuse awareness.

And t's one of the things that makes us amazing, and it's one of the things that has us be overwhelmed, that we can walk through a room and sense the physical and mental and emotional levels of energy of anybody in the room. We have that kind of awareness, because diffuse means to pour in every direction. And generally, anyone who is on your property, in your home, you're aware of. I'm aware of the workmen in my dining room. How are they doing? Are they cold? They're replacing windows and it's 23 degrees out. How do their fingers move at 23 degrees? I'm tucked away in this other room with a heater.

Bonnie: I wonder if this is what makes female physicians better doctors? Just kind of was thinking about that. There are studies showing that we are – well, I don't know exactly how they measured better, but we had better outcomes in patients than male physicians, and I wonder if it's because of that awareness that you just described.

Alison: Well, there's what I call gathering mode. So, if you think of a cavewoman out in the meadow gathering. And she's picking something up and considering the possibilities, or she's presented with a problem and she's immediately scanning options; should she fight? Should she freeze? Should she just freeze and hope it walks right by?

So, if a woman is with a patient or in a discovery state of mind, like a diagnostic discovery state of mind, then there's a very good chance she'd be open to other possibilities where someone who's committed to proving or disproving that this is, you know, one of their patients or not.

Like, my dad's going through a bunch of tests right now for whether or not he should have open heart surgery. And the people who are examining him are from a very focused black and white in or out. Not what are the possibilities for helping this man. Like, is he a candidate or not? These factors say yes, these factors say no. and once we've decided that, then we'll consider other options. I'll send you to another doctor.

It's interesting. But you certainly, if someone's performing surgery on you, you certainly want them to be focused on nothing else but performing that surgery on you, assuming that's your only problem. If they open you up and find another problem, you want them to be considering other options very quickly.

There is much to be said about the strengths. That's why I think we need good partners, when we don't try to compete over them but we complement each other instead.

Bonnie: So, what do you think – and maybe we've said some already so we can summarize briefly. But what do you think are the top mistakes you see Breadwinning women do with their men?

Alison: It's the same mistake that non-breadwinning women make with their men. And that is that we don't make our partnership with our so-called partners our first priority. And it can be heard differently. I'm not saying make the man your first priority. No. Make your partnership the first priority, which has you paying attention to what all of them need.

And it's classic, when a woman has a child, instinct has her make the child her first priority. And then husbands and fathers and boyfriends, they need attention. They need our attention. It literally gives them life and it makes what they're doing worth doing. We give them purpose.

So, if we're not paying attention to what they're doing, then the point of doing it, they have to keep generating it instead of it's just an obvious simple thing to do. It's what they're contributing to that relationship, whether it's being at home, taking care of the children, like my husband did for many years. Or it's breadwinning.

Whatever it is that they're doing, the acknowledgment and appreciation they need the most is from their partner. And we often neglect that. When they stop being, in our partnerships, our first priority, we're all about work or we're all about the children, or I've even known people who were all about their volunteer commitments. And they paid more attention to what they did as a volunteer than they did to their partnership.

And it's instinctual. We're going to pay attention to what we feel like we're getting the biggest reward for, getting the highest status, the most kudos, the most appreciation. We just naturally steer towards that. And it's why, in relationships, we need to pay a lot more attention to noticing and acknowledging what the other person is doing for us and doing for the family, or doing for the world.

And we need to take a lot personally, “Thank you for doing that for me. Thank you for taking out the trash for me. Thank you for making the bed for me. Thank you for everything you provided for the children today for me so I could have my dream career. Thank you.” We need to take a lot more personally that we don't, and a lot less personally, many things, that we do. Like, they didn't do it my way, that's an insult.

Bonnie: Awesome. What are your top tips to set ourselves up for success with our partners? Assuming the female physician is making, you know, the money, all of it or most of it.

Alison: Well, one thing we have to watch is thinking that money equals power.

Bonnie: Yes.

Alison: That whoever makes more money has more of a right to decide what is done with it. And I asked Greg about this because he made a lot more money than I did for many, many, many years, and then I made a lot more than he did for as many years. And I asked him if he was ever emasculated by that. And he said no, because it was always clear that it was all our money. And that was something I did consciously. That when I would get up in arms about, you know, “I ought to get to…” like the time I told him I wanted a tractor, and he vetoed tractor in a really big, bad way. It's the only time he was ever really nasty with me.

And I went to bed thinking, “Damn it, I've spoiled him. And if I want to buy a tractor, I'll buy a tractor. I make the damn money anyhow…” And the next morning he came and apologized and told me the truth, that when I said I wanted a tractor, he imagined me driving it off a cliff and dying. And that's why he attacked the whole notion of me having a having a tractor. He said, “Absolutely you should have a tractor.”

So, we got to watch thinking that it means power. And if we do that, we're not really in a relationship anymore. We're in some kind of adversarial arrangement. Relationships don't come close to partnerships, and relationships that are a powerplay, I wouldn't call that a romantic relationship. You're not doing life together. You're doing life in contest with each other.

Bonnie: Yeah, I definitely have some strong opinions… not so much opinions of how people should combine their money, but I find it interesting how every does divide differently. I don't think there's a right way, but that is something Matt and I do is we have a joint account and I just consider it all our money. It's just easier that way, to be honest. I don't want to have separate accounts.

There's also the easiness factor logistically. Like, I don't want to deal with tracking separate – because I handle the money in our relationship for the most part. But if I had to track different accounts, that just would be super annoying to me.

Alison: Do you have play money?

Bonnie: Does he have play money, or what do you mean?

Alison: So, what Greg and I did for most of our marriage, as soon as we found out about it, is we took a percentage of our net income each month and we split it. So, when times were really tight, we might each get 10 bucks. But when times were more flush, we would take 5% of our net income and split it 2.5% each and then I had a savings account and he had a checking account and he'd put it in his checking account and I would deposit the money into the separate accounts and what it did was it gave us money that we could spend any way that we wanted and we weren't accountable to the other person for it.

And so, it gave that sense of freedom and independence and we didn't have to arm-wrestle someone for something that we wanted. But it also allowed for real gift-giving. It wasn't, “Hey, honey, I took some of our money and bought you something. I took my money.” When he had a cataract removed, he didn't want to pay for getting a long-distance lens. But he rode motorcycles and drove cars fast. And I was like, “Well, it's important enough for me. I will pay for it.”

I gifted him sight. It was awesome. And then, when it was my turn to have cataract surgery and they were even more expensive, the trifocal lenses, and I was like, “Nah, I don't think I should get it. It's too much money.” He said, “I will sell my car for you to have that.” And I was like, “Oh, we're going to take it out of the household account then.” So, play money is a good thing to have. It resolves a lot of tension and it helps people be more disciplined about their money because they know they're going to have this little stash that they can spend on stuff.

Bonnie: Yeah, I love it.

Alison: I still do it, even though it's all my money, I still have play money.

Bonnie: Yeah, awesome. Do you have any specific tips for those of us with stay-at-home spouses or partners taking care of the children or doing that part of the household stuff?

Alison: You know, whether the stay-at-home person is male or female, the same things apply. They or we, because I've done both sides, need to be seen, need to be appreciated. When I was a mostly stay-at-home mom, I worked part-time, very part-time, we had something called a credit tour. Once a week, I'd say, “Do you have time for a credit tour?”

And we'd set up a time. Like, “Yeah in 15 minutes or this afternoon or whatever when I get back.” And I would take him around the house and the garden and I would point to everything I did. And like, “See that wall right there?” Like, “Yeah, I'm not noticing…”

“Well, there's a spot that isn't there anymore.” “Oh yeah, I remember that spot. Good job.” And so, I got to get noticed for the things that I spent my life on, to create our home. And I called it a credit tour. And I think everybody needs a credit tour, whether it's, “I taught our daughter cursive today,” or, “I rearranged all the cupboards,” or, “I conquered the world and saved somebody's marriage.” We all need credit tours. We need our partners to know what we're proud of.

Bonnie: Yeah, no I love that. And maybe I'm speaking for myself, I definitely think I can do a better job showing my appreciation for the things that he does. And I have a feeling my audience could probably do better in that area too.

Alison: Pretty much everybody.

Bonnie: Yeah. Well I'm so thrilled that you were here on the show today. Thank you so much for your time and your pearls of wisdom. And anything else you'd like to say before we close?

Alison: I would say that we are riddled with expectations. It's part of being human. And expectations breed more expectations. And one of the best things that we can do, whether we're the breadwinner or not is take all those expectations and come up with what I call a shortlist, which is maybe four things, maybe five at the most. And make two shortlists.

The first shortlist is a description of what you'd like your experience of your life to be, like qualities of your life, that your life is fun or that it's fulfilling or that you experience vitality or peace. And then, you come up with another shortlist of, and again, four, maybe five things, of what are the biggest things that contribute to that? What do you need?

And oftentimes, one thing on that second shortlist will produce many of the results on the first shortlist. It gives you peace and fun and vitality, like walking with my dog for example. And we have to discipline ourselves to bang for your buck, otherwise we just need and need and need and we're not satisfied.

But if we pay attention to, what are the four or five most important things I need on a regular basis, and this is what I'm asking my partner to be accountable, to either provide or support me in getting, then our partners have a chance to win with us. And whether you're male or female, the sense that you cannot win with the other person, that they always want more and more and more from you, that just puts us under ever time. So, that would be my last advice. Make a short list. Have a short list for my relationship.

Bonnie: Love it. Well, thank you so much. That's a good tip and I'm going to work on that for myself.

Alison: Cool.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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55: You Won’t Be Happier with More Money

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | You Won't Be Happier with More MoneyHow many of us believe that life will be better or we will feel happier when we have more money? I've touched on this topic previously on the podcast, but I'm taking a deeper dive today because this is something I see come up for so many people, myself included, and it's not a belief that is serving us.

I can already hear some of you arguing with me, thinking, “Say what you want, but you can't tell me life wouldn't be better with an extra $10 million.” And while that statement can feel true, I'm certain there are countless examples from your life already that can show you that it's simply not the case.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover why we believe that life will be better once we… fill in the blank, and why this thought isn't serving us. I'm sharing what the best reason actually is for setting and chasing our goals, and an exercise in appreciating what you do have right now so you can move forward in gratitude and abundance.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we believe that life will be better when we have whatever it is we're looking for.
  • What the best reason to have goals really is.
  • Why life will not be better when you have more money… or when you have anything for that matter.
  • How these thoughts are showing up in your life and keeping you from enjoying the things you do have.
  • What you can do to remind your brain of what you do have and fully appreciate those things before moving on to the next.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

 

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hello, hello. So, this is episode 55. And this officially marks one year of The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast. And so, obviously you're listening to this, if you're listening to this. And I just want to thank you. Thank you for listening and thank you for all of your support over the past year. I so appreciate it and I'm so glad you're here.

And so, I've prepared a topic that I think you're going to love today. Of course, it's about money. And it's sort of breaking down the premise that life will be better when… when I have more money, when I retire… whatever that is.

Now, I sort of touched on this topic a little bit in the episode called The Retirement Myth, which we'll link in the show notes. But I'm going to take a deeper dive today. Because how many of us think life will be better when we have more money?

Now, I used to think this way too. In fact, I still do on default, and I have to remind myself that life won't be better with more money. I can already hear some of you arguing with me, “No, no, no, but life will be better once I have $10 million.”

How many of us are wanting more money because we think we will have a better life? We think we're going to be happier. On the surface, we sort of know that's not true. But I think deep inside we're like, “Yeah, but…”

And how many of us go for goals because we think getting the goal is going to make our lives better? I think this is kind of the fallacy of all goal setting, like becoming a doctor, getting married, having kids. We think we will be happier, that life will be better once we get those things.

Now, this concept is called the arrival fallacy. And all of us are prone to it. Pretty much all of us live our lives thinking this way. And on first glance, it seems pretty useful. It's like, “Oh, but it helps us stay motivated to achieve the goal.”

But the problem is that it often causes a lot of suffering while we achieve it and it robs us from appreciating our lives now. And we miss out on all the beautiful things it means to be human.

Now, like I said, I am guilty of this as well. Now, many of you may know the story that I did not get into dermatology residency until the third time I applied. I really believed I would live happily ever after, if only I got into dermatology. And then, I got it.

And yeah, I was ecstatic the day I mashed, for sure. But soon after, maybe a day, then the next goal was to meet someone or to lose weight or who knows what it was at that point. So, does anyone else think like this, that life will be better when…

And at the same time, we feel like we can't be happy because we don't have that thing, we don't have more money. Because here's the thing, when you believe life will be better when… when you have more money, you're basically saying this; my life isn't good enough right now. It could be better. There's something better than this, this being right now, this moment, whatever you have right now.

This type of thinking takes you out of being present to all that you do have. We don't appreciate what we actually have. And in case you didn't notice, what you do have is probably things you wanted beforehand and now you have it. But you've already moved onto the next thing that you think will make your life better.

So, we literally do not stop to smell the roses. And I will tell you that if you don't learn to appreciate and cherish what you do have, the money you do have right now, you will not magically then appreciate it when you have more.

Now, I used to think that I had to believe that things would be better when I had $10 million to motivate me. But now, I understand this was a huge thought error.

I think I somehow thought that if I didn't believe that, then I would somehow lose all motivation to do anything, meaning I would just be lying on the couch all day eating Cheetos and watching Netflix all day and become a slob.

Now, I said earlier how life will not get better once you have more money. And I know some of you are arguing with me, “No, things would be better if you had more money.”

Now, of course, some things will be different, but not everything. So, I truly believed, if someone just showed up and gave me $10 million, that life would be better and all of my worries would end.

But yes, certain things would definitely be different. Like I could fly first class all the time. I could always stay in super-amazing luxurious hotels, if that's your thing. It's my thing. And if I'm totally honest. I kind of already do this, although there hasn't been much flying recently, obviously, but I have flown first class and I have stayed at some amazing luxury hotels.

I would love to fly first class all the tine $10 million would probably help me have a better view from my home. I could live in a quote unquote better home, more spacious, whatever. But these things, my ability to fly first class, have a bigger home, have a better view, these things in itself do not actually bring more joy or happiness to me and my life.

Because whatever that emotion you're striving for – I'm just using happy, but there are other things like free, relaxed, confident, whatever you think the thing you want, more money, et cetera, these are all emotions and remember, emotions are created by thoughts, not things like money or first-class flights. Now, do certain things, like being on a first-class flight make certain thoughts easier? For sure.

Now, I'm guessing another question you're having after listening to all of this is, “Okay, if life won't be better if I have more money, then what's the point of trying to have more money?” or whatever the goal is.

And that is a great question. And the way that I've thought about this and from talking to other people and doing my own inner work is this. The whole point of goals is to challenge yourself. It's to grow, literally; to grow your mind, to expand your mind, to expand what you think is possible.

And the goal is simply there to facilitate that growth. And listen, achieving certain goals definitely makes life more fun. Having money, flying first class, whatever you think money is going to enable you to do, certain things will definitely become way more fun for sure.

But you're still going to be human. You're still going to have a human experience. And if we spend so much time believing and thinking that things will magically be better when, like I said earlier, it just robs you of appreciating what you have right now.

So, I've got a little assignment for you today. I want you to make a list of what you want – now, in terms of what these things are, it could be things, it could be a net worth, whatever, things that you think will make your life better when you have them.

So, I want you to make a list. And let's say 10 things. If you're being extra, you can go for 20. Whatever number you pick, 10 or 20 things. But here's the caveat. Half of those things have to be things you already have. And the whole point of this is to remind yourself, remind your brain that you have things that you wanted so badly before and you've just forgotten to appreciate them.

You know, some of those things for me are having Jack, my son, having Matt, my fiancé, living where I live. I live in a luxury high-rise building. I don't live on the top floor. I live on the sixth floor. So, like I said, my view could be better. But these are all things I wanted so badly before. Becoming a dermatologist, being near my family, being able to spend three months in Hawaii, whatever.

And I guess I'm reminding you to spend some time appreciating what you do have, because that is really the secret to getting more money, is to appreciate the money you do have. Otherwise you're not going to appreciate having more money, I promise you.

Thank you again for listening. Thank you for being here for the past year. If you haven't already, I would love it if you subscribed to the podcast and left a great review. I will talk to you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Fairness

54: Fairness

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | FairnessSomething I see come up for a lot of my clients is frustration around the concept that things should be fair. And the effect it has on their life can be more profound than you might think. So, I'm taking this week's episode to discuss the whole idea of fairness.

How many of us think that life should be fair? Or that we should get our fair share of things, especially when it comes to money? Well today, I'm unpacking this whole fair business because I want to show why this, striving for fairness, is a terrible goal.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover why I believe we should not be aiming for fairness. I'm sharing how the belief that things should be fair is holding you back, and where I believe we should be concentrating our efforts instead.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • 2 reasons why I believe that aiming for “fair” is a terrible goal.
  • How to know whether your beliefs around fairness are serving you or not serving you.
  • What you can do to actually move forward, instead of wishing for things to be fair.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Well hello, everyone. welcome to episode 54. So, I live in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. And we've had several days in a row where the weather has been creeping up around 60 degrees. And something just changes around here.

Now, I lived in New York City for a long time, but I'm pretty much right across the river now. And so, it's hard to explain. I guess you could say spring is in the air.

And I'm sort of laughing inside because a year ago, we spent the winter in Hawaii. And any time the weather got below 75, I want to say, we were cold. And so, it's just so interesting what we get used to.

And so, of course, today the weather was more like 35 or 40 degrees this morning. And I often sort of lament that March in the Northeast is cool. Because you'll have a few days where it's warm and sunny and gorgeous and you want to play outside. And then it gets cold again and then you're reminded that spring isn't quite here. Anyway, that was kind of random. But that's just what I was thinking about today.

So, today I want to talk about the topic of fairness. This is something I've been thinking about for a while and it was sort of spurred by one of my previous one-on-one clients, and some other clients that I've had, where the issue of getting what's fair comes up a lot.

And so, most of these clients were quote unquote suffering because they wanted what was fair for them. And for one of these clients, it was in the context of a divorce. And so, it really got me thinking, what does fair even mean? And is fair something we should even strive for or want?

And I've come to the conclusion that the answer is no in almost all cases. So, that's what I want to talk about today. Because how many of us think that life should be fair? Or we should get our fair share of things, especially money?

We often hear people say the rich need to pay their fair share of taxes. So, today, I want to unpack this whole fair business because I want to submit that this, this fair thing, is a terrible goal.

So, let's first define fair. So, this is what Google told me. Fair is an adjective. And it means free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice. The second definition is what I'm working with though. The second definition, meaning legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, et cetera, proper under the rules. And the example they gave was a fair fight.

So, I've come up with sort of two reasons why I think fair is a terrible goal. Number one, when you're focused on getting what's fair, it removes the focus from your own inner power. Meaning it leaves the power to someone else or something else. Meaning that something outside of us has the ability to make us happy, or whatever you think having things fair would do for you.

I think this whole idea of fair is we think life would be better if things were fair. And ultimately, we would be happier.

And here's the second reason. I think it makes us feel terrible when we think things should be fair. Because, well, go to number one, Meaning that we think life will be better if things were fair. And since things aren't fair, we feel terrible. So, it kind of goes in this loop, as you can see.

So, I think all of us should drop this fair thing as the goal or the standard. Because like I said, in my experience, from what I've observed in coaching many clients, it almost always leaves us feeling terrible. Focus on you, what you can control. And we can never control other people, no matter how hard we try.

Now, I'm not saying that you should accept anything either. But I think we really need to question why things should be fair. And when you're striving for things being fair or getting your fair share, whatever fair you're going for, is that type of thinking serving you?

Is it actually helping you to think that way or is it causing a lot of negative emotions and angst? That is the difference, I think, of when fair is serving you or not serving you.

Personally, I don't think it's ever served me to think that things should be fair for me, or whatever. I just kind of assume that things won't be fair, or that life won't be fair.

It doesn't mean I just sit there complacent or not do anything about things. But I just don't believe that that's the goal. And I recommend you do the same.

What would you spend your time thinking on instead if you stopped believing things should be fair? What would be a better use of your time if you stopped thinking that things should be fair? What would you be working on instead? What would you be creating instead?

So, I hope I've given you some things to ponder on and I'll see you guys next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Power of Asking Yourself Great Questions

53: The Power of Asking Yourself Great Questions

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Power of Asking Yourself Great QuestionsIf you've been listening to this podcast for a while, hopefully, you understand that your thoughts create feelings, which lead to actions. And over time, these actions eventually become your life. That is easy enough to take on board on an intellectual level.

However, the main problem I see is that most of us don't think on purpose. Our brain just offers up the same old thoughts, and we are inclined to believe them. So, in this episode, I'm sharing the best way I have found to really question what's going on in your brain, open up your mind to new possibilities, and find the answers that actually have the potential to move you forward.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover how to use tools like journaling and “Superthinking” to their full potential. I'm sharing the secrets to asking yourself amazing questions, the answers to which will create the emotions that help you act in ways that align with what you truly want for your life in the long-term.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The importance of making time to create some distance between you and your thoughts.
  • Why asking yourself questions is the best way to open up your brain to new ways of thinking.
  • How to ask yourself questions in a way that moves you forward in creating the life you want to live.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Well hello, everyone. welcome to episode 53. So, today I want to talk about this concept of thinking time and asking yourself questions. So, some of you might be thinking, “What is she talking about?”

And so, this is a concept I learned from Brooke Castillo, the creator of The Life Coach School, where I trained to be a coach. And she actually has an episode called Superthinking.

And so, I highly recommend you listen to that podcast episode. It will complement this one very well. And so, if you've been listening to this podcast for a while, hopefully you understand that your thoughts create feelings, which lead to actions. And over time, these actions eventually become your life.

I guess you could say the problem is that most of us don't think on purpose. Our brain just offers up thoughts. It offers up 60,000 thoughts a day, most of which are not conscious. But for the ones that are conscious, we believe them. We think we are our thoughts.

And so, this concept of putting time aside to think might be kind of foreign to you. Now, some of you might be journalers or you'll spend some time journaling or you've been to conferences or retreats where they had you spend some time journaling.

And if you think about it, journaling is basically thinking time. That's how I think about it anyway. And the reason why journaling can be so powerful is that it requires you to pause and reflect. And as you write your thoughts out on paper, I mean, that's kind of what journaling is, then you get to read your thoughts and look at your thoughts with some distance.

Because otherwise, we're just in our heads and the thoughts are just floating around and we can't tell left from right usually. Now, most of us spend way more time planning a vacation than planning our life. Or said another way, most of us spend way more time thinking about a vacation than thinking about our life.

And even when we do, it's often only about once a year, usually January. And so, I want to introduce the concept of thinking about things, your life, whatever is on your mind more often and deliberately. And one of the best ways to think on purpose, to access new thoughts to believe, is to ask yourself questions.

Questions are a great way to open up your brain to new possibilities. You know, our brains are supercomputers and if you ask yourself a question, your brain wants to answer the question. Not only are questions a great way to open up the brain to new ways of thinking. It's also a way to disrupt the status quo inside your brain.

You probably have heard me say to never say the phrase, “I can't afford this.” And to instead ask yourself, “How can I afford this?” Because if you tell yourself a statement like, “I can't afford this…” what do you think happens? Nothing. Because you basically have accepted you believe, “I can't afford this,” is a fact. Did you know that it's a thought actually?

But when you ask yourself a question, “How can I afford this?” then you start thinking about ways to make it possible. So, that's just a quick example of how questions can be so powerful.

I also think questions are great journal prompts. And like I said earlier, journaling is a great way – it basically is a way to see your thoughts on paper versus being in your head with your thoughts. Thinking on purpose, choosing your thoughts intentionally versus letting thoughts happen to you is the key to creating the life you want.

Because most of us, this is how we live. We think something. A sentence goes through our mind. And we believe it. And then our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. And so, I said earlier that I call this concept thinking time or superthinking. There's many different phrases given to it. But basically, it's time set aside for you to think.

And so, this is something that I do every week purposely. Meaning I schedule time to think. This is very different than how most of us think about scheduling time to do things. This is thinking time. This isn't doing time.

I think about my business. I think about myself. I think about my life. I think about my family. Any area that I want access to new thoughts to believe and to gain insight. And oftentimes during this time, I am basically asking myself questions and answering them myself.

So, I'm going to share some of the questions I ask myself and then I'm going to suggest questions that you can try on as well, since many of you listening probably don't have a business like I do. But you may.

For example, you may own a practice. And so, if you do own a practice, I definitely encourage you to set aside some time to really think about your practice, your business. And so, I'm going to go over some of the questions that I ask myself around my business.

Now, the way I think about my job in the context of my busines sis that it is my job to think, for my business and my clients. Meaning I'm basically a think tank for the business and for my clients.

What do my clients need from me? What problems do they have that I need to solve? What are the common thought errors, or said another way, what are the common limiting beliefs my clients are having and how can I help them most effectively? How do I get my clients better and faster results? How can I make my concepts even simpler and easier for them to understand? What skills do I need to work on as a coach, as a CEO, as a manager, et cetera? How can I believe in my clients more today? How do I need to show up for her? What is my relationship to my business today? How can I add or create more value?

Here are some examples of some non-business questions that I'll ask myself. What areas of growth do I have? How is it true that I have enough? Now, I ask that question often because my brain will often default to, “We don't have enough,” or scarcity-based thinking. So, this is a question I ask to kind of disrupt that status quo in my brain.

Who do I want to be for myself? For Matt? For Jack? Who would I be if I deleted – insert negative thought or limiting belief? And so, these are just examples of some of the questions I ask. And you're welcome to borrow them, of course. But I really encourage you to come up with your own questions based on what you want to work on or what you want to think on.

Now, some caveats about creating your own questions. It's important that you ask the, quote unquote, right questions. And let me explain what I mean by that. Now, there's no such thing as a right or wrong question, but I highly recommend you don't ask negative questions.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight and let's say the thing you do is eat too much pizza. Here's an example of a negative question. Why can't I stop eating pizza? That's an example of a negative question because that question is basically insinuating, is basically judging yourself and shaming yourself for eating pizza.

And so, a better way to ask that question would be something like, “Why do I love eating pizza? Why do I want to eat more pizza, even when I'm no longer hungry?

Negative questions will often lead to negative answers. And negative thinking does not work. Shaming yourself, punishing yourself for a behavior that you're labeling wrong does not work. And hint, it doesn't work for other people either.

So, the next time you're in front of a pen and piece of paper and you're journaling, come up with three questions to ask yourself and answer them. You'll be amazed at the wisdom that you already have inside versus asking someone else or Googling the answer. Google within yourself. Okay, I'll talk to you guys next week.

Hey if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Power of Asking Yourself Great Questions

52: Women and Money: The Future

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Women and Money: The FutureI've had so much fun in my research for Women's History Month and it's been a real eye-opener. So, to close out this series, I'm discussing what the future could have in store and how we as individuals have the opportunity to create lasting change for all women for years to come.

There is plenty of data to show that we are moving in the right direction, but with what I'm sharing today, you too can contribute to a future where women are taught completely differently about money and what is possible.

Join me on the podcast this week for a short and sweet episode. I'm sharing why changing the future landscape of money for women is ours for the taking, and how every single person listening can make a difference in achieving this goal.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why the future is in our hands.
  • The gender norms around money that are gradually changing.
  • How each one of us can contribute to making these changes continue into the future.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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  • Learn more about Money for Women Physicians where you'll learn the tools to make practicing medicine OPTIONAL.
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Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 52. So, I hope you've enjoyed this mini-series I've done for Women's History Month. I had a lot of fun researching and learning about the past.

So, today is going to be short and sweet; I want to talk about the future and how we as individuals can rewrite history. Because the future is female and the future is rich.

So, before I go into what I want to talk about, I want to give you a few statistics. Some interesting data that I found showed that right now, in 2021, that in the US, women control about a third of the US household financial assets, around $10 trillion.

But some projections have shown that over the next decade, so next 10 years, that's going to change significantly. Specifically that women will own close to $30 trillion in financial assets in just 10 years. This is for the US only by the way.

And so, there are a few reasons that have been put forth as to why this is going to happen. And it's because women, for the most part, outlive men by at least five years. And heterosexual women tend to marry partners that are, on average, two years older than them. And so, women are inheriting money.

And there are also some changing gender dynamics on money. For example, the percentage of women being involved in making financial decisions is increasing steadily. Even if these projections weren't happening, I want to plant the idea today that you, we, can start changing the story of women and money.

How? By becoming rich. Because the more women who create wealth by releasing their limiting money beliefs, rewiring their brains, not only do we get to rewrite our story around money, but we can change the world. Because let's just be honest, women do awesome things when they have money.

And I also want to say that this is the key to lasting social change. Meaning it always starts with the individual. So, if you're listening and you're a woman, and even if you're not a woman, I'm pretty sure you know at least one woman. I want you to be rich.

I want all of us to be rich. You not being rich does not help anyone. And being rich can help a lot of people, not just because money does solve a lot of problems, but then the women after you will know that they can be rich too.

Now, I mentioned a few episodes ago how I'm in this advanced feminist coach certification program where I've learned just so much about our history as women. Money was just one part of the curriculum. But it was on so many things.

And I just want to read you a quote from my coach mentor Kara Loewentheil, “When women are hesitant to make money and create wealth, they usually do not understand that by opting out of the game, they are ensuring it continues to be rigged against them.”

I'm going to repeat this again because it's so good, “When women are hesitant to make money and create wealth, they usually do not understand that by opting out of the game, they are ensuring it continues to be rigged against them.”

This is what I mean, that lasting social change always begins with the individual deciding to not put up with the current status quo. And the current status quo in 2021, unfortunately, is that if you're a woman, you're more likely to not be confident with money. You're more likely to not be in a leadership position to make real change. You're more likely to make less money than a man.

And for what I do specifically, which is coaching women physicians, I believe this is the key to taking back medicine. It takes courage. It takes boldness to do this. It takes work. I mean inner work; your mindset, rewiring your brain.

It's uncomfortable, and this work is so worth it. This is exactly what I teach and coach inside my program Money for Women Physicians. If you're a woman physician listening right now and you're not inside Money for Women Physicians, why aren't you? Get inside.

So, I'm going to leave you with some questions that I want you to ask yourself. Why aren't I rich? What's in the way between me and rich? What is a number that I really want that I'm not really telling myself because I don't think I can have it? And my favorite question, why not me? Why not? That's all I have for you today and I will talk to you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of likeminded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Gender Pay Gap in Medicine with Dr. Linda Street

51: The Gender Pay Gap in Medicine with Dr. Linda Street

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The Wealthy Mom MD Pocast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | The Gender Pay Gap in Medicine with Dr. Linda StreetIn keeping with our theme throughout Women's History Month, I'm speaking to Dr. Linda Street, a fellow life coach and female physician about the gender pay gap that still exists in the medical field, and the unique issues that female physicians face in pursuit of equal pay for equal work.

Legally, employers aren't allowed to pay women less than men for the same work. However, even accounting for industry variables, specialties, hours worked, and maternity leave, on average, women are still paid less than men. And the situation gets worse depending on factors like your ethnicity. So Linda and I are unpacking everything you need to know in this episode.

Tune in this week for an eye-opening discussion about the gender pay gap in medicine. We are sharing the data and factors behind this disparity in pay, and how this pay gap has been allowed to go relatively unchecked even though it is legislated against from a legal perspective. There is still so much work to do, so Linda and I are also discussing what your options are, albeit limited, as a female physician if you discover you've been paid less than a male colleague in the same position.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The data that proves the gender pay gap has not been closed as a result of existing laws on pay discrimination.
  • How the gender pay gap varies between ethnicities compared to what white men are paid.
  • Where pay has proportionally dropped in fields with an increasing majority of female specialists, still unequally between men and women.
  • How institutional gender inequality in the medical field is still being allowed to continue even though it is illegal.
  • What a lack of women in top leadership positions means for the future of the gender pay gap.
  • How you can advocate for yourself as a female physician if you are a victim of gender pay discrimination.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 51. So, today, I have a special guest. I have Dr. Linda Street. You might recognize her name because I've had her on the podcast before. I had her on an earlier podcast. We'll link that in the show notes, where we talked about negotiation.

So, Dr. Linda Street is also a certified life coach, like myself. And she's also, I believe, maternal fetal medicine, and we decided to get together to talk about the gender wage gap that currently exists, continuing the theme of the history of women and money.

And so, a few episodes ago, I kind of laid out the big milestones in terms of the history of women and money. And today, Linda and I are going to dive deeper into some of the issues that we experience as women, specifically in medicine, and talk about some of the laws that have come into place now.

Legally, employers can't pay a woman less than a man for the same job. But we also know that's not reality. And so, that law started to get passed in 1963. That's when the first legislation requiring equal pay for equal work. But it took a few more years for it to expand to, sort of, all fields.

And so, we still have a lot of work to do, and so Linda and I are going to discuss some of the issues that we face as physicians and also some literature which talks about and has proven that female physicians, even accounting for things like working part-time or taking maternity leave, we are still paid less than our male colleagues. Extremely infuriating. So, listen on as we discuss the gender pay gap in medicine.

Bonnie: Welcome to the show, Linda Street.

Linda: Yes, and welcome Bonnie Koo, depending on where you're listening. I'm excited to talk to you today.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I've had you on the show before and we talked about negotiation, of course. And so, I thought it would be fun to have you on here so we can riff a bit on sort of the gender pay gap and what's going on, despite the fact that legally we're supposed to be paid the same.

Linda: Right, legal and reality are certainly not always parallel.

Bonnie: Exactly. So, I just thought we could talk about some of the – we'll just talk about the data because I think some people think it doesn't exist in medicine.

Linda: Oh yeah, I mean, entirely. I've definitely run into people who are like, “Yeah, it's because…” insert excuses, excuses, excuses. And they can give you a laundry list of reasons as to why the gender gap's not real.

Bonnie: Yeah, because I think people think it's because we take maternity leave. But even accounting for maternity leave and working part-time, there still is a gender gap. So, I kind of wanted to talk about that a little bit. And so, we'll talk about stuff particular to medicine, but I thought it would also be fun to – not fun, but interesting to talk about the gender pay gap at large in terms of women as well.

So, one thing that I found that I just wanted to say real quick on the podcast is I found this chart from 2018, just in terms of the cents on the dollar for women compared to white men. And overall, we get paid less, duh. But it's different depending on your ethnic background as well. And so, I thought this was really interesting.

So, white women make about 79 cents on the dollar. This is all compared to white men. And then Asians are 90 cents. Oh, so we make more than white women. I don't think I knew that. That's interesting.

Linda: Congratulations.

Bonnie: Congratulations, right, yeah, woo-hoo.

Linda: Still less than white men.

Bonnie: Still less than white men, exactly. And then the lowest paid is Hispanic or Latino at 54 cents, which is crazy. So, they're basically half. It's insane. So, I just wanted to put that out there. And this data is from US Census Bureau data from 2018. So, I just wanted to put that out there that it's just crazy, the gap.

And so, basically what I wanted to say is yeah, we make less than men and then the gap is even worse for women of color. So, let's talk a bit about specialties. Because there are different amounts of women and men in different specialties.

So, obviously, everyone listening, this is 2021, the last time I checked there are pretty much equal amounts of women and men that enter medical school. But we're not 50% of the physician workforce yet. Because that just takes time to percolate. So, do you want to talk a bit about that in terms of specialties that tend to be female-dominated versus not and has that changed over time as more women have entered medicine?

Linda: Right, so certainly it's changed over time as women are becoming part of the medical community more. But what's interesting is the pay aspect of that changes. So, most of us who spend our time in medicine can certainly see that there are some fields that are more associated with being female than others.

The first two that come to mind for me that are pretty prevalent are pediatrics and OBGYN. Those are fields that if you look at any given residency program, the vast majority of the residents are going to be female.

As an OBGYN myself, all six of us in my year were female. we had 24 residents throughout the residency and I don't think there was ever a time point where there were more than three guys out of that 24 at any given year of time. And so, when you look at that, that's clearly very female-predominant.

Pediatrics runs very similarly, maybe a little bit less so. But what's really interesting is as women are getting into these fields, the pay is going down for those fields proportionally. So, not only are women being kind of pushed into certain fields because that seems more appropriate or for whatever reasons. But then, once they enter those fields and become the majority in that field, the pay for everyone in that field goes down.

So, there was actually a really great article in JAMA Peds this month that looked at the pay for men and women in specialties once they became female-predominant. And they both go down. That being said, of course, they're not going to go down fairly. So, men's went down half was much as the women in that field when it became a female-predominant field.

Bonnie: That's messed up.

Linda: It's totally screwed up.

Bonnie: I'm just so curious. I don't know if you know the answer. How does that happen? I'm just curious what the history of the decrease, what's behind that? We should look into that at some point. But yeah.

Linda: Yeah, and if you think about collections and things, I mean, this year was a big change because Medicare made all those changes for 2021 based on what relative value units get associated with what CPT codes, what procedures. So basically, they shifted it a little bit to favor some of the more primary care visits, like outpatient visits. And some of them were procedural things that had previously been preferred. And so, this is a group of people who sit in a room on a committee deciding, with a net neutral budget, how dollars get distributed. So, what procedures should be worth what amount of money? What value do we place on an office visit versus a procedure? This procedure versus that procedure.

So, you can imagine, over time, as these demographics change in the field, if the demographics don't change on those committees, it's certainly an opportunity for bias, so that's certainly one place, kind of on a high level where what you're compensated per procedure could change.

And even on smaller level scales, if you look at individual CPT codes, let's go for biopsies. So, when we were starting this conversation before the recording, we were talking about how different biopsy sites, since you're a dermatologist, may out at different levels. And obviously, it's a lot different having a biopsy on your arm than on your genitals.

But you would think that it would be fairly equally uncomfortable to have a genital biopsy regardless of your gender. However, a penile biopsy is worth 1.9RVUs versus a vulvar biopsy or perineal biopsy is only worth 1.1.

So, already, not only are you saying that the physician who takes care of the women, that their time is worth something different, because we all know that urology tends to be more of a male-dominated versus gynecology is more of a female dominated field. But then you're saying the value of taking care of a female patient is worth something different than the value of taking care of a male patient from a dollar standpoint.

Bonnie: Yeah, it's like so many levels of effed up, basically.

Linda: Right, the biases are layered in there every step along the way. Like, every step along the train, there's a whole new layer of bias.

Bonnie: Yeah, and then when you add them all up, it just leads to getting paid a lot less, basically.

Linda: Right, when you were talking about the pay data at the beginning, like, comparing to a white male, every year there's equal pay day, and that's the day where women have finally earned what men earned the previous year. And for women as a collective, it's typically end of March, early April. We haven't gotten to it yet.

But when you look at the different races, I mean, a Hispanic woman's equal payday is going to be almost a year after it took a man to earn that same amount of money. And so, it's just crazy when you start thinking about long-term potential, how all of these things add up to death by 1000 cuts.

It was so interesting; I was looking at something else earlier today when I was researching for our conversation. And there was an article that came out in the New England Journal of Medicine in October of 2020, so fairly recently. And it actually looked at primary care physicians, and they monitored how much time these doctors work.

So, with female physicians working 2.6% longer – so they were working more hours in this study reference – they made 10.9% less revenue from office visits and conducted 10.8% fewer visits. And then they looked at the complexity and all of those things and analyzed for that. So, basically, for the same amount of work or a little bit more, women are earning 10% less in the exact same field as men doing the exact same type of things.

Bonnie: Yeah, and this is a good segue into something else I found, is that I bet – I don't know, there probably is a study, I just didn't look for it specifically. But I bet female physicians on the whole don't bill as – I don't want to use the word aggressively, but they don't bill for everything they do. Because I know this is the case for female lawyers, because we learn that female lawyers don't bill for everything they do because they feel bad about, “Oh, that only took a few minutes.” Or, “This shouldn't have taken me as long…” because they bill by time.

But I know a lot of female physicians, actually someone who took my course told me that she felt guilty about billing patients even though they had insurance. And she was telling me how she no longer feels guilty. Now she bills appropriately and her income just shot up.

But I bet there are a lot of female physicians that don't bill for everything they're owed. They feel bad for coding a level three or a level four visit. So, I'm curious if you have seen that or heard about that at all.

Linda: Yeah, I mean I certainly haven't seen the data to that effect, but it makes sense, right? We're socialized from being little tiny children that women are helpers, women are maternal. The little girls are given baby dolls to play with, like you should just be helping.

And I feel like I hear that a lot with my clients when they're asking for raises. Like, “Oh, I feel guilty asking for more money because I really just want to help my patients.” And it's like, they're two separate possibilities, like you couldn't help your patients and get paid better. Like you can't do a good job taking care of someone and be helpful if you're asking to be reimbursed how you should be.

And so, I think all these pervasive beliefs certainly handicap us at a different level. Like, those are interfering with our ability to earn our worth, just at a societal level, just from being trained since we were little girls to believe certain things about women.

Bonnie: Yeah, and one thing I also found was how, you know, I think everyone can agree that male physicians are perceived differently than female physicians. I feel like every female physician has a story of being mistaken for a nurse, for example. So, there's that societal expectation of what a doctor should look like.

And then take that and one of the things I really hate about medicine, and you do too I'm sure, is now we're like Yelp reviews, basically. People can write Yelp reviews of us. And so, Press Ganey is like the big company that does this. And some hospital employers – maybe it's more than some. Maybe it's many – have now tied your pay to getting a certain score, a satisfaction score.

And so, one study I found – I'm sure there's multiple studies, and the one I found specifically was about female gynecologists was that they basically were 47% less likely to receive a top patient satisfaction score compared with their male counterparts. And this was due to gender alone.

I mean, we all know there's gender bias in general. And so, I think it would just be interesting for every employer to kind of see how their male physicians are doing compared to their female in terms of their satisfaction. Because I think patients have different expectations if you're a female or a male physician.

Linda: Sure, I mean not only from a what should you listen to level – I see this in my patients because I'm getting referring patients from either male OBGYNs or female OBGYNs. I see both. And it's interesting. And I'd have to pay attention to look and see if the data jives out. But I find I get a lot more basic routine obstetric questions about discomfort and is this normal from patients who come from a male physician. Because they may or may not feel more comfortable asking that when the doctor is a female. And so, those visits take longer because I'm talking about basic routine things instead of the subspecialty information they're seeing me to achieve.

And so, my visit all of a sudden took longer, and so that may add up to less visits you can see over a day. If you layer into that, I think the expectations are different from a woman physician versus a male physician. And so, that certainly is interesting, especially in gynecology where all these patients are female, by default. To see a gynecologist, you have two X chromosomes.

And so, for these female patients to more highly rate the male physicians just on a global scale certainly shows how deep these biases run. Women aren't exempt from feeling these things.

Bonnie: Yeah, totally. Another thing that I learned when I had Barbara Hamilton on the show was the sort of subconscious – not subconscious, but how women are almost funneled away from higher paying specialties that are, quote unquote seen as demanding and maybe not good for women, like surgery for example is one that comes to mind.

And so, I'm wondering how many women medical students were basically deterred from pursuing certain specialties because they won't be good for having a family because there's that silent expectation of a woman needs to have a family and all that kind of stuff. So, we'll link that in the show notes so you can listen to that episode.

But let's discuss now how women in general in medicine, that the leadership is still highly male, I think across all specialties. I know for sure in dermatology it's still mostly male, and how that affects the gender pay gap as well. Do you want to talk about that for a little bit?

Lind: Yeah, certainly I think that your governing bodies have a big role in the advocacy for your field, right? And that brings up a whole other layer that I hadn't thought about before, is it'd be interesting to see how advocacy at a lobbyist level from a legal standpoint is different between male-dominated and female-dominated specialties.

Because oftentimes, from a societal construct, women are less focused on advocating for ourselves and doing those things. It'd be interesting to see what the topics advocated for were, whether it was patient-based versus physician benefit-based and then how that all jives out between different genders and fields. I'm making some assumptions here, but I'd be intrigued to see how that jives out.

But yeah, even in, like I said, obstetrics, which is a field where all we do is take care of women, and it is becoming a much more female-predominated field, even in our leadership, certainly it's gotten better over the last several years, but there's a substantial discrepancy in the rations of genders on our leadership levels versus the ratio of genders represented within the field itself.

Our leadership boards tend to be at least 50-50, if not male-predominated. And this is in a field that is very skewed towards female physicians. And so, when you have that lack of leadership at the top, certainly that's going to trickle down and have impact on the women coming behind too.

Bonnie: Yeah, I think in general, not just medicine but in general for all professions, in general there aren't enough women in the top leadership positions. It's almost the exception to the rule. And people are surprised.

Linda: Right, or there's one woman…

Bonnie: Token woman…

Linda: Yes, and the data shows that if there's one woman in a group of men – I forget which book it was out of. One of the negotiation books that I read talked about some experiments where they looked at conversations. And if you have one woman in a group of six men, so she's the clear minority, she often doesn't speak up. Versus if you have a more even distribution, they're going to feel a lot more open to sharing their thoughts, to really impacting the conversation and moving agendas forward.

So, even if you have your quote unquote token woman at the table, if she's uncomfortable speaking up because it's a good old boys' club meeting, then it's more optics than it is actual progress. And I think the same thing could probably be carried out if you start looking at ethnicities and things too. Like, if you look at the data on that, I would be surprised if it showed anything other than similar kind of data, similar results.

Bonnie: Yeah, you know, one thing I'm curious what you know about this topic is, I know that for a lot of physicians, and I know this is true of my first job at our residency, was apparently I wasn't allowed to talk about my salary with other people. Is that even legal?

Linda: So, it's in the contract. I have a confidentiality clause. And I actually asked, “Can we get this removed because I'm kind of morally opposed just on a principle level?” And I was told – the advice my attorney gave me was that it's a big hill to fight on. They're not going to want to remove it. It doesn't actually mean a whole lot from an enforceability standpoint.

And so, yeah, but there's that moral deterrent. There's that, “Oh, I shouldn't do that. I signed saying I wouldn't.” And so, that's in there as well. But almost every contract I see has some type of language about lack of transparency, even interestingly enough I believe the contract I signed in my first job had language saying you have to keep this contract confidential.

And the salaries were all posted on the internet. So, because we were state employees, our salary data was searchable about a year or 15 months later But despite that, there was that confidentiality clause and it certainly benefits these uneven systems because when you have transparency, it benefits more equitable distribution.

Bonnie: It's just bizarre to me because legally – like I said, legal and reality are different. We all know it. But legally, employers can't have gender discrimination for pay. So then, why is it legal for them to not let us talk about it, because how else are we going to know?

Linda: Right, I mean it's something that the laws are oftentimes more about optics than actual desire for change. So, I'm sure that certainly plays a role. And oftentimes, even if things are unenforceable, we all know that unenforceable things can still be placed in a contract.

I was doing some research for a non-compete episode I'm about to record. And I have physicians in states where non-competes are not enforceable who have them in there for moral reasons, for moral persuasion, or whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. And so, it doesn't even have to be enforceable to show up in your contract.

There's that barrier where most of us as physicians have been rule-followers for a really long time and that's how we got to that position. So, even if you can add a pretend barrier, it's often enough that most people aren't going to jump over it.

Bonnie: Yeah, that just makes me mad.

Linda: Me too. But yeah I mean, they're real. It's out there.

Bonnie: Yeah, I still talked about what I made anyway. But I don't work there anymore, so…

Linda: Right, and I think the vast majority of people, who feel the way we do, do. But there's that person who wants to ask and just doesn't have that confidence yet. And they're the ones that are sitting there wondering and being paid 20, 30,000 less than their male counterpart.

Bonnie: So, I'm curious, what you do is help female physicians with their contracts. I'm sure you have worked with physicians who have found out that they were getting paid less for equal type – and I'm not talking about people who are 100% RBU-based. So, I'm just curious, you know, maybe just one or two anecdotes, how have they navigated that?

Linda: Yeah, I can think of a recent story where a gal had actually found something on a printer, like there were a couple of partners and the male in the group had printed something out for a mortgage application, or whatever it is that you needed a W-2 for, and saw that they were making more.

And they actually approached their leadership and the leadership's comment was, “Oh, that must have been an error.” And then magically her salary was boost. And you and I both know that it's very unlikely that that was an error. And this persona actually checked in with another female physician working in the same environment who was also making less than that gentleman.

And they were similarly ranked, similar FTE distribution, so other major variables were all comparable. And as soon as it was brough to attention and there was no real easy way to kind of bow out of it, it was corrected. But how many years was that a problem for prior to the correction, right?

So, one of the parts of the conversation here is not only how do we fix this moving forward, but is there anything you can do to recoup that lost potential? And the short answer is that pursuing that legal battle is going to cost you a whole lot more money than what you're going to recoup. And that's where it gets really tricky.

Because if you start looking into what you have to do to be able to file a gender discrimination claim, there are so many barriers, so many hoops that unless you can prove something really egregious and prove that the intent was based on discrimination, it's really difficult to capture that money back.

Bonnie: Yeah, and I just want to say for everyone listening in, speaking of just gender-based discrimination and how you can sue for that, I'm sure you've heard of Lilly Ledbetter. She basically worked for Goodyear and found out that despite having the same sort of title compared to her male counterparts, she was making significantly less. And so, I don't know the whole story, but in 2007 the Supreme Court actually ruled against her saying too much time had passed. Basically, if it was more than six months it was too late.

And then, thankfully a few years later, President Obama sort of signed a new law saying that you can still sue even if more than six months had passed. But like you said, even though that's the law, it doesn't mean that women have the resources – not just the financial resources to sue, but also want to spend the time to sue.

Linda: Right, being a plaintiff is a lot of work. It's a lot of emotional investment. It's a lot of time investment, a lot of financial investment. I mean, just the fact that you have to climb through those hoops when something should have been equitable to begin with is by itself a problem.

Bonnie: Yeah, and as you were talking about one of your clients, I just remembered that one of my clients actually, something similar, she sort of found out by accident that she was getting paid less than a male counterpart. And this wasn't for her main job. This was for some sort of additional medica education type – I don't remember the exact scenario.

And maybe this has changed, but at the time, she decided not to say anything. Now looking back I'm like, this is so messed up because she was worried about looking bad and rocking the boat and being seen as not in a good light. Because generally speaking, we both know that when women speak up for themselves, we're not seen in a good light.

Linda: Right. I mean, I've experienced it. So, a lot of the things surrounding our job, so if you look at peer review structures, that's a whole other podcast in and of itself. But the more you dig into it, peer review, if you look at the legal part and you look at the observations, it's very skewed towards hospitals. And the physician, if they want to make you look bad, has very little ramification. So, you're almost guilty until proven innocent, not innocent until proven guilty.

And so, if you get a target on your back as a troublemaker, certainly there are a lot of things that hospitals or your department chair or your boss can do to make your life really difficult and really to potentially damage your career.

Bonnie: Okay, so now that we've talked about all the depressing stuff we have to face as women, let's end with maybe, I don't know, I don't want to say tips, but maybe just some takeaways for our audience in terms of what they need to be aware of. I think hearing our conversation is going to be awareness in terms of what potential gender discrimination in terms of pay they'll face, but let's leave them with a few things they can do.

Linda: Yeah, so I think the first thing is it's okay to ask. It is okay to ask these questions. It's okay to ask for transparency. It's okay to get the temperature of what's going on around you. And then, one step further than that, it's okay to advocate that you should be paid fairly. It's okay to advocate if you are doing more that you should be paid more.

So, I think you need to be willing and open to advocating for your own value. We can't change the systems overnight, but what we can do is kind of move the needle person by person until this becomes less tolerated. Because if enough of us stand up and enough of us and enough of us say this is not okay, then we can slowly move that needle. And the first step, as we learn all those cage questions back in medical school is that awareness, that being alert to the fact that yeah, this is happening. This does impact me. It does affect me. Where are places that I can improve that on a microcosm scale?

And then I think just money in general – you can certainly attest to this. I think as woman, there's a lot of room for us to improve how we view money just at all.

Bonnie: Yeah, I really love what you said, how it starts at the individual level, woman by woman, we have to each be courageous to speak up and not be afraid to ask these questions. And since we're both certified life coaches, one thing that came to mind as you were talking is you have to be willing to be uncomfortable to ask those questions or be uncomfortable later when you're not paid enough.

Linda: Right, and so it's short-term discomfort versus long-term discomfort, which goes into a lot of the money beliefs that you teach.

Bonnie: Yeah, so be uncomfortable short-term while asking these questions versus the long-term discomfort of getting paid less and how that compounds over time, not just compound interest, but opportunities and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, that's basically what you and I do is help women advocate for themselves, basically.

Linda: Right, and help them get out of their own way so that they can do that.

Bonnie: Yeah, I'm sure for you, it's so fun when people come back to you when they were able to get more from a negotiation. And even one lady in my program told me that she asked for a raise. And so many women are just so afraid to even ask for a raise. Even if they think they deserve it, just asking that question can be so fear-provoking. And so, she asked for a raise and they were like, “Yeah.” But you have to ask for it. You can't assume they're going to reach out to you and be like, “Hey, you deserve a raise.”

Linda: Right, and even being willing to say, “Hey, I'm worth this,” and if this is something that can't happen, being willing to walk away.

Bonnie: Yeah, alright, I'm fired up now.

Linda: I know, it's like, let's go change the world.

Bonnie: Yeah, well thanks so much for being here. This was super-fun.

Linda: Yes, it was so great to spend some time with you. I know we both have very parallel missions so that women are doing better with money so that we can have opportunities.

Bonnie: Yeah, so tell us real quick – and this will be in the show notes – tell us how people can find you.

Linda: Yeah, I'm at simplystreetmd.com and certainly my podcast, depending on where you're listening to this, is Simply Worth It Physician Negotiations. And for the counter office, how can my people find you so that when they negotiate their wonderful raises, they can do right by that money and make sure it's serving them?

Bonnie: Yeah, so I am @wealthymommd. That's all my social media handles. Really just Instagram because I'm on Twitter but not really. And then my website is also wealthymommd.com.

Linda: Perfect, so good to spend some time with you.

Bonnie: Same here.

Linda: Bye-bye.

Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to practice medicine on your terms, then you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part coaching and 100% guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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