Before going solo and founding The Invest Diva Movement, I was actually working at a Forex broker on Wall Street… but I lost my job in 2011… and while now I can talk about it candidly, at the time it was the biggest slap in the face I’d ever experienced. To make things worse, I also experienced a massive heartbreak two weeks after getting fired from my job…Today, almost a decade later, you frequently see me on media like Forbes, Fox Business (ow.ly/or8i30qbQOW), CNN, TIME Magazine, Yahoo! Finance and more, and I’ve written a number of books published by the biggest publications in the US. But things weren’t always like this for me…
I was actually born and raised in Iran to a Jewish family during the Iran-Iraq war. My dad, who previously was a very successful engineer and CEO of a construction company, had lost everything to the new Iranian regime, so I grew up with very little. It was especially tough because my mom always had stories about the time when things were good, when they had a 24/7 personal driver and housekeepers at home. But now, she had to wait in line to get eggs and milk on food stamps. So I grew up knowing what it feels like to get something you worked really hard for and then lose it.
When I turned 18 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer which led her to a double mastectomy, and to distract me from the pain, she pushed me to apply for a scholarship to study electrical engineering (like my dad) in Japan. I applied, and got a scholarship from the Japanese government. After learning Japanese for a year they sent me to a college in the middle of nowhere, where I was the only girl and the only foreigner in my class. All the classes were taught in Japanese.
I freaking hated it. I didn’t understand anything, and sucked at everything. Especially all the math stuff. I was the daughter of a once-successful engineer and everyone expected me to be good at math, but I simply wasn’t. On top of that, it was really intimidating to be the only girl in the class. While you might think I was getting hit on by my classmates, that definitely wasn’t the case. I was viewed as an outsider from a third-world country with no money who was feeding off their taxes they pay to their government.
This was hard because I really wanted to succeed to not only make my parents proud but also help them financially and get them back to where they were before the Iranian revolution. My older sister was really good at math and whenever she made any money, she would help out my parents so this made me feel like a failure as their daughter.
Finally, even through the tears, I graduated with my first degree. I was actively looking for a way out of engineering, but in Japan it’s super tough to change majors. In case you were wondering, yes I do speak proficient Japanese and even got myself a TV show on Japan’s national TV.
Then came the year 2008. There was a massive global recession and the markets crashed.
At the time I didn’t know a single thing about the economy or finance. But all I could hear was that the U.S. Dollar (USD) was getting cheaper and cheaper. That’s when I had an idea: maybe I can buy some U.S. dollars at a cheap price and send it over to my parents? I could even keep it until it gets expensive again and exchange it back to Japanese Yen! With that, I started going to the ATM machines every day and exchanged some of my Japanese Yen (JPY) into the U.S. dollar (USD). But every time, when I went back the next day, the USD was even cheaper than the day before. So I became addicted to going to the ATM every day and getting disappointed that I had exchanged my money too early the day before. I had a feeling that the USD was going to get much cheaper but I was getting tired of having to go to the ATM every day to find out. So I thought maybe I could write a coding program that would automatically execute my USD/JPY exchange at the lowest price it could reach?
I was talking about this with my Japanese host family mom, and she told me that the program is already written and it’s called (brace yourselves…) trading! She hooked me up and opened an account for me at HiroseFX, and I transferred $10,000 worth of Japanese yen to that broker in August 2008. Within a month, I doubled my money!
That obviously felt great. That night I went out with my friends to this place called Roppongi in Tokyo to celebrate. The success was enough for me to want to completely ditch my college degree and start investing. This was my first ever investment and I made $10,000 within a month in a CRASHING market. Remember how tough it was for me to fit in and do math? Can you imagine how awesome I felt after I saw the returns as someone who’d NEVER invested before, sucked at math and really didn’t even put that much time into the whole thing?
I was making around $1,500 per month being on Japanese TV and wasn’t even able to cover my basic living expenses.
I literally couldn’t believe what happened. I was making around $1,500 per month being on Japanese TV and wasn’t even able to cover my basic living expenses. So you can imagine how it felt to make $10,000 in one month without doing anything other than setting up an account and take a leap of faith on one investment decision. And the craziest thing about this was the fact that the whole financial market around the world was CRASHING, and literally the biggest investment banks in the world were going bankrupt and out of business! So yeah, I felt smart and as I had really achieved something for the first time in a really long time.
And this success was enough to motivate me to pack my bags and move from Tokyo to the heart of global finance, Wall Street! Within two weeks of arriving in New York I got myself a job at a FX brokerage called FXCM, which was located at the end of Wall Street on Water Street if you’re familiar with the area.
And that’s when I found out about all the shady things going down and how often the retail traders fall victim. For example, in the case of Forex brokers, oftentimes they make money when the traders LOSE. Another thing that I noticed was that around 90% of traders were men, and that there was a huge absence of female traders.
I was looking at all the traders losing money and almost zero women in the crowd when I had my AHA! moment: maybe if we do this differently, putting quality education out there and telling people the truth about how Wall Street works, then fewer people will struggle financially, more women will become interested and we can change the world!
I got super excited and came up with all these cool ideas to help transform Wall Street, and went ahead and pitched it to the head boss of my division. Imagine a geeky new girl with all the ideas, freaking out in front of the big Wall Street boss. Guess what happened after I pitched to him?
I got fired.
I had just received the biggest slap in the face I had ever gotten in my life. And to make things even worse, two weeks later the man I thought I’d marry broke up with me. I was devastated. Within two weeks I went from a success with a bright unlimited future to a single girl all alone in New York with no money and no job. I felt dumber than ever and had no idea what to do next. I felt absolutely horrible. I certainly didn’t know how to tell the news to my parents, and my dream of being able to help them financially was nowhere in sight.
But this time in my life turned out to be the BEST thing that ever happened to me. Because it set me on FIRE.
I buckled down, and took the time of my unemployment to invest in myself, reinvent myself, and reeducate myself. Even though I felt I’d already wasted so much time – seven years studying for a degree in Japan that wasn’t serving me at all – I thought to myself, better late than never, right?
So even though I was literally running out of money, I quarantined myself in my tiny room in New York, surrounded myself with investment education, and really dove in head first. I bought and studied everything there was out there about finance, trading and investing. I studied for a Charted Market Technician (CMT) degree, a Certified Financial Planning (CFP) degree, CFA, etc. – all those C-level titles Wall Streeters get to brag and show in their status.
And the first thing I discovered was that these things were not as hard as Wall Streeters presented them to be. NONE of it was above fifth-grade math. They were making things sound difficult so THEY sound smart and scare people from investing on their own, causing people to hand their hard earned cash to them so they profit more.
And as I was studying, I found some big time secret sauce. What I found made investing so easy! It was going to allow me to design investment strategies that were exactly right for ANY individual’s risk tolerance, but also make things easy enough for them to do it on their own, allowing them to make their money work for them WITHOUT having to pay me a commission fee. And the secret sauce had to do with a technique developed in Japan, so it really brought my whole journey together.
I was now inspired by something MUCH bigger than just having a job on Wall Street, and so when I got two big job offers from two large Japanese banks in New York, Mizuho and Mitsubishi UFJ, I turned both down. Serving people who had been getting screwed over by banks, financial institutions, money managers and self-proclaimed gurus was my new calling.
And that’s how The Invest Diva Movement was born.
I went on to write multiple books, getting published by the biggest publishers in the US, and speaking at the biggest financial events around the world.
And let me tell you how this all came full circle. Years later I was speaking about investing and my system on stage at New York’s Money Show, and guess who was in the audience?
My former boss had fired me!
That was such a wonderfully glorious moment. Because I realized that not only was I not hurt by his firing me anymore, but even more importantly I realized that those hard times that made me feel like a loser had all led me to that moment.
If it wasn’t for spending several years in Japan doing what I hated and then getting fired from my Wall Street job, The Invest Diva Movement wouldn’t have been born or be what it is today. Our failures are often the catalysts that take us to where we’re meant to be, right?
Fast forward to today – I’m writing this to you from my home in Connecticut, raising my beautiful two year old daughter, Jasmine, with my wonderful husband Matthew. I’m living the life I always wanted to live, traveling to the places I always wanted to travel to, driving the car I always wanted to drive. I’m doing financial media, preparing to write another book (I love writing), and deciding on which speaking engagements to take.
Most importantly, I am helping people. I help women become their own money manager, training them to create their own diversified portfolio and investing strategies based on their unique risk tolerance. It is not a one-size-fits-all coaching scheme, and one for which I’ve won multiple awards. The best part of my day is when I get to talk to and work with my Invest Diva Personal Investing Group (P.I.G.) students. Listening to a student who isn’t a math expert and was a little nervous at the thought of investing now talk about making their first profitable investment touches my heart. After reading my story, I’m sure you can understand why!
And yes, with my system I created retirement funds for my parents. Realizing that dream was probably the sweetest of all, as it made me feel like the responsible professional woman that I am, and the daughter I always wanted to be.
Why is financial education so important?
Most people think the key to wealth is making more money. However, the truth is true wealth has nothing to do with how much you make. The real key to wealth is being educated enough to keep and grow your money.
You don’t suddenly learn how to handle money by making more of it. Financial literacy isn’t a side effect of wealth. Wealth is a side effect of financial literacy. That’s why the majority of lottery winners lose all of their money.
Should it be taught in schools?
Yes absolutely, and that’s one of the reasons why I actually started teaching at high schools and at universities in New York such as Baruch College as an adjunct professor.
Your new project focuses on empowering women into getting a solid financial education. Why just women, are you not losing half your market?
My goal is to create a safe place for women where they can ask questions without feeling intimidated. If you go to other trading groups, you’ll notice many people simply trying to brag and put each other down. The Invest Diva Movement isn’t like that. It’s a group of pro-active women and moms who understand the importance of taking control of their financial future not only for them, but also for their children and grandchildren to come.
That being said, our services are open to men who are supportive of our mission. We don’t discriminate. However, any male who shows signs of disrespect towards our community members or our mission is immediately removed from the group.
Is there a specific way that you are carrying out the education?
My education course is conducted through short, fun and easy-to-understand videos. The PowerCourse can be completed in eight weeks and is a step-by-step guideline taking our students through personal finance, risk management, trading, investing, and successful strategy development using my methods.
Is it aimed at people with a base knowledge of investing or can a completely new person use this?
Invest Diva services are for newbies and experienced traders alike, as we have several different programs that are suitable for each level of experience.