The financial industry is known to be a male-dominated industry being cutthroat and extremely competitive. However, we are extremely proud of those who are an example for other females to not only join the industry but to realize they can rise to the top as well.
Meet Mompreneur Callie Ford, 31, who has not only built a successful financial planning practice but is devoted to encouraging and helping other females grow their businesses. She believes women can be successful moms and business owners; it just requires hard work, dedication, and a detailed schedule.
Callie Ford has owned her successful financial planning business since the age of 22. Through long hours and dedication, she received countless well-deserved awards and recognition within the financial industry. Callie is the youngest person to ever receive an award called FORUM, an award provided to the Top 2% of Financial Advisers in the country.
But, things have not always been easy for Callie, when her son was born with a rare genetic syndrome called CHARGE, she spent 24 months living in and out of the hospital rarely leaving his side. She had to make a tough decision to put her career on the back burner and focus on her son’s medical care. While her son still faces tough medical issues, she’s found a way to re-engage with her business and has come back even stronger while her son is far succeeding in medical professionals’ expectations. She continues to build strong relationships with her financial planning clients and has become a sought after motivational speaker. She now speaks at large conferences about her journey and how to pivot in business when facing adversity.
‘’I’m so honored when someone tells me that hearing my personal story has motivated them, especially women. We all face challenges in life and all have the ability to choose how we handle those challenges. Embracing challenges and finding the inner strength to work through them is critical. ’’
Callie Ford is successful because she is passionate about the work she does with her clients. She knows she is bettering their lives and helping them achieve their financial goals. She never gives up mentally and pushes through all obstacles; she encourages clients to take the same approach in their lives and to tirelessly work towards their long-term goals even as they navigate life’s changes.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
People often ask me how it feels to stand in front of an audience with the goal of motivating them to be greater and do more. For me, it’s not about the feeling while up there. It’s about what happens after the speech. The moment becomes defining when I receive feedback weeks later that someone in that audience went home and made a change in their personal life or their business. Impacting someone to better themselves in any capacity is an incredible feeling.
In my own personal financial practice, I feel more rewarded knowing I am leading my clients closer to their goals. We all want that powerful rate of return, but the real goal is leading my clients to make decisions they may not have seen on their own. Whether leaving a legacy for their children, building a successful business, or creating a significant charitable impact, guiding clients to achieve their dreams is empowering.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
You better get ready to work! This career is not for the weak. You must be mentally and emotionally strong to achieve a high level of success in this career…and if you are not going to do it at a high level, then what is the point in doing it at all?
Seek out an advisor who has proven success as a mentor. If you listen to them and act on what you learn, you will advance much faster in this career.
How much time of do you get or take?
In my first 5 years as an advisor, it was normal to work 60 hours a week. I worked nights and weekends consistently. My managing partner would tell me to take Friday afternoons off so I did not burn out, but I loved the learning, impacting clients, and was hungry for success.
I had some very quick success in the industry, so I was able to afford a flexible schedule after 5 years. Experiencing new places and cultures has always excited me. It’s how I reboot and come back ready to work. At the 5-year mark, I started traveling the world. I continued to work long hours while at home but enjoyed the flexibility to create my travel schedule in a way that suited me. This balance has been a true perk of this career.
When my son was born with life-threatening medical conditions, I needed to step back from my business for over a year. I did not take on new clients but instead focused only on providing for my existing clients. This certainly had a negative impact on my business; for the first time, I experienced a decrease in revenue.
This was not easy for me to accept. I pride myself in success and pushing forward through all facets of life but at the time, it was the best and only decision I could make. Nothing is more important than my son.
Now with a national practice, I have the luxury of working for my clients from any location. This affords my son and I the opportunity to create new experiences traveling and I can continue advocating for his medical care. I still work long hours in order to maintain a high level of success but have the flexibility to choose when those hours happen. If it were not for this career, then my son nor myself would be where we are today.
How do you deal with less good days?
Every single person has rough days. It is simply part of life. What matters is how you deal with those rough days. People who allow the rough day to flow into the next day or consume their entire week are falling dramatically behind professionally and mentally. When I have a not so great day, I try to end it on a positive note in some way. That could entail reinforcing my confidence by preparing for tomorrow’s meetings, completing a task that has been lingering for weeks, or spending quality time doing something fun with my son. It is important to bring positive energy back into those bad days.
How do you turn storms into accomplishments?
Wow…What a question! We all have a story to tell. Early on in my career, I had a strong competitor who had 20 years of experience on me. This competitor did not like the fact that I was young and making a pretty strong name for myself within the medical market for financial planning. He made it his mission to damage me and my practice with false allegations which were eventually cleared. This led to a 3.5-year legal battle. Talk about a mental challenge at the bright age of 25 years old! Once my legal battle was over, I realized that I never wanted to tie myself to just one local region. I could create insulation from situations like that by building a diverse, national business. I set out to shift my local financial planning business to encompass a national client base. Many of my colleagues and mentors thought I was naive. This business is typically built on in personal relationships and by creating a positive name for one’s self in the local community. I politely ignored the feedback from colleagues and started building a national financial practice working with physicians and hospital groups from coast to coast. This decision lead to my most successful year with the largest growth. Due to that tough situation, I now can impact more people than I ever would have if I had stayed locally focused. It has also provided a consulting opportunity for me to teach other advisors on how to do the same.
Yet the biggest storm in my life has been my son’s unexpected medical disease, CHARGE Syndrome. It is a rare genetic disease that creates low life expectancy and affects almost every area of the body from hearing and vision to heart and blood disorders. This will be an ongoing storm in our life as there is no cure, it can only be monitored. While I would give anything in the world including myself to cure my son, that is simply not an option. We were given a tough hand of cards and we will play the hell out of that hand.
I refuse to allow this storm to dictate our happiness or mental capacity. I am mentally tough because there is no other option. I tell my son’s story in my motivational speeches to encourage others to continue moving forward personally and professionally when life throws us heartbreaking curveballs.
How do you balance work and life?
This is a tricky question because I do not really believe there is such a thing as work-life balance. We have different seasons of life. Some of those seasons are smooth sailing. It is in those good times when we should capitalize and focus on the areas that need a little bit of extra attention either in our work or personal life. Some tougher seasons do not give us a choice, and we’re forced to focus on one specific area whether that be health, business, marriage, etc. In my opinion, the key is to be able to recognize what needs your love and attention in each season, including your own personal wellbeing.
Any great story from a client?
I am blessed to have incredible clients in my financial practice and some amazing memories from my speaking engagements. Overall, in my financial practice, there is nothing that makes me prouder and more fulfilled as when a client tells me they are now better off because of the guidance I have given them. This has been especially true during the COVID pandemic. I’ve had some very impactful conversations with a few clients in which we’ve been able to leverage their previous financial planning to help get them through hard times. Being able to provide them with options that lessened the negative financial impact they were experiencing from revenue loss simply reinforced my conviction for what I do. I’m more driven now than ever to help others plan for whatever the future holds.
When it comes to my motivational speaking, two main stories come to mind. First, I had just finished speaking in an arena of over 13,000 people. As I was walking back to the green room, an older lady stopped me who was one of the custodians in the arena. She had tears streaming from her face, gave me a massive hug, and said thank you. She went on to tell me about how my speech gave her the motivation and courage to connect with her daughter on how to create a plan to help her grandson who had just been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Second, I received a hand-written letter from a very well known Managing Partner of a financial firm. He expressed that my speech challenged him to start being more vulnerable in his home life and with his large team of financial professionals that work within his firm. He explained that my speech made him realize he needed to let down the barriers in order to move to the next level in several areas of his life.
How would you describe your leadership style and what has made it so effective?
I have a great friend who always says, “Leaders lead from the front.” I love this statement. It’s impossible to lead from the back. True leaders have a natural ability to lead. It does not mean they do not have their own set of issues that need to be addressed. It means they recognize those issues and are willing to put in the work to better themselves.
My leadership style is bold and loyal. I am known for being direct. It is my job to push my financial clients to make tough decisions they have been putting off. It is my job to push women to think bigger about what they want to accomplish. It is my job to push individuals to stop doing what is comfortable and start doing what is going to make a difference. I am not going to be able to accomplish those tasks by having easy and inauthentic conversations.
I believe the effectiveness comes from the loyalty piece. Whether it is my family, friends, or clients, I am all in. I am “ride or die” as people like to say. I hold myself to that same high standard I hold others. Therefore, people know they can trust me.
What traits do you look for when building a team?
I always want to hire people smarter and more effective than I am in that specific area. I am good at recognizing my strengths and weaknesses and welcome feedback from others. This allows me to realize what areas are lacking and who to look for to fill that gap. I want people who are experts in the area needed. My team also needs to be passionate and loyal. Energy spreads so if someone does not enjoy their role on the team that can spread to others creating a poor environment. A healthy and energetic environment is important for every team.
Any advice for entrepreneurs on moving beyond a failure?
Always push to succeed but embrace the failures along the way. You choose what the failure will mean in your life. Failure can be a great asset if one allows. Failure is typically how the most valuable lessons are learned personally and professionally. Failure can also debilitate you moving forward if you allow it to do so. Embrace learning what you did wrong and what you are going to do differently in the future. Choose to make past failures valuable lessons for your future.
Share us some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own business.
I am women’s biggest fan. I am a girl’s girl. I also know women appreciate security in all facets of life. We were designed to have a need for feeling secure.
Heather Monahan, author of Confidence Creator talks about how there is no perfect time to make the leap from employee to employer. We can create every excuse there is for ourselves; being too old, being too young, not having enough in savings, worried we will not achieve our goals, our spouse may not support the idea, taking away time from our children, on and on… While all of these are perfectly valid concerns the point is there will always be a reason not to take the leap. What could be worse than looking up in your later years wondering “what if….?”
There are a few recommendations I will make to anyone considering making the leap to entrepreneur:
- Nine months of personal expenses saved and liquid
- An extremely realistic budget for the first 9 months of starting and operating the business; always overshoot versus undershoot
- A mentor who has proven success in the space you are entering
- A conversation with your loved ones about how much time and attention you will need to spend starting the business in the first year (at least)