Today’s topic of “economic empowerment” is so appropriate given my goal to have $50,000 in the bank by this time next year.Without further ado…
I currently work in the Economic Empowerment division of Rubicon Programs. Our job is to help folks transform from struggling economically to being economically empowered. What is ‘economic empowerment’? Let’s define both terms using the dictionary.
noun ( pl. economies )
1 the wealth and resources of a country or region, esp. in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.
• a particular system or stage of an economy: a free-market economy | the less-developed economies.
2 careful management of available resources: even heat distribution and fuel economy.
ORIGIN late 15th cent. (in the sense ‘management of material resources’): from French économie, or via Latin from Greek oikonomia ‘household management,’ based on oikos ‘house’ + nemein ‘manage.’ Current senses date from the 17th cent.
verb [ with obj. and infinitive ]
give (someone) the authority or power to do something: nobody was empowered to sign checks on her behalf.
• [ with obj. ] make (someone) stronger and more confident, esp. in controlling their life and claiming their rights: movements to empower the poor.
Taking those two definitions and creatively merging them together I now define Economic Empowerment as:
Having the authority, power, and confidence to manage your resources to live life the way YOU choose.
Do you want to live life on your terms? Then you must learn to take control of your resources (finances, assets, health, and time) and manage them in a way that produces results and supports your goals. Doing this WELL is being economically empowered.
How does Rubicon help someone become economically empowered? By offering a variety of services designed to get a participant on the road back to economic stability, and eventually to economic empowerment. These services include career coaching, housing coaching, legal services, financial coaching, and substance abuse services.
Career coaches help people discover their value and market that value to potential employers. Once work has been established, and someone has an income, then the housing and financial coaches get involved. If there are legal issues or drug problems that get in the way of reaching goals, then those services are rendered to participants.
Every coach and service provided at Rubicon is designed to help an individual eliminate any and all barriers to the ultimate goal of economic empowerment.
The most common barriers are:[list type=”pointerlist2″]
- Mindset – The assumptions and beliefs that people have to approaching relationships, work, money, and health are NOT getting them the results they say they want. A new perspective and approach is warranted.
- Attitude – If you have a bad attitude, then it can be very difficult for anyone to work with you. Whom would you rather deal with? A person with a bad attitude or a good one?
- Legal Issues – Do you realize how difficult it is to find work with a criminal record? You may have the attitude that someone who commits crimes doesn’t deserve to work, but do you see how that kind of thinking leads to more crime? People who are creating value in the world for others will decrease crime rates. People need to work.
- Skills – Low or no skills is not something that can be fixed right away. It takes time, planning, and concentration to grow the right skill-set that is valuable to others.
- Housing – This is obvious. If you don’t have a place to call home, you think it’s going to be easy to find and sustain work? How about the stress that this creates? People need housing.
- Habits – We first make our habits, then our habits make us. Habits are behaviors that re-occur without consciously thinking about them. The only problem is that behaviors ALWAYS lead to results. If your current results are the opposite of what you’re wanting, then you’d better train some new habits NOW or it’s going to be a long, difficult life.
- Transportation – If you don’t have money or resources, how do you get to that job you want to apply for? How do you get to work? Transportation is a huge barrier for someone that have very little resources to spare.
- Clothing – Ok, you got the interview, you have the job, and now they need you to look a certain way. You need the proper attire so you don’t make a bad impression or sent home from the job.
- Bad Credit – How do you get into an apartment with bad credit? How do you buy a car with budget-friendly financing options? Your purchasing choices diminish for every point you don’t have on your credit score AND increases the likelihood of you paying more money in the end.
This is a sample of some of the issues that many of our participants face. Some have a few of these barriers, and some have all of them. Whatever obstacles they face, our job is to help them eliminate them one by one.
This is goal setting & getting 101. You set a goal, and every goal has barriers to overcome. The more difficult the goal is, the more barriers that person will have to overcome. Climbing Mt. Everest is significantly more difficult than running up a hill. Running up a hill requires less preparation, less planning, less training, etc.
You’re much more likely to accomplish your goals with a competent team behind you versus doing it on your own. Strategy, hustle, and accountability is what Rubicon offers to individuals. That’s the difference.
The Financial Opportunity Center (F.O.C.) Workshop is offered to eligible participants once a month. It’s a two week workshop that addresses many of the barriers people will face on their path to economic empowerment. Sample workshop modules include personal branding, crafting a resume that gets you interviews, building assets with your current income, dressing for success, communication and empathy, consumer law, and so much more.
The idea is to arm them with the tools, resources, and information that will increase their odds of finding work, getting housing, job retention, and building a strong financial foundation.
Risk & Growth
I’ve been working at Rubicon for just over 9 weeks, and it’s been an incredible learning experience. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced work that’s been challenging, enjoyable, and where no two days are EVER alike. But the time has come to throw my ideas out there, and see if I can outdo my success in Seattle.
I’m currently working as a Re-Entry Career Coach. My job is to work with the formerly incarcerated and help them find and retain work. I’m also to facilitate certain parts of the workshops we conduct.
Recently it was decided to have two workshops running concurrently, the regular F.O.C. Workshop and a workshop geared towards the re-entry population. The Re-entry Workshop has the same goal of economic empowerment, but sprinkled with additional niche specific modules. It’s also a little more intensive and in depth on certain topics.
Since I will be facilitating parts of the new workshop, there’s opportunity to develop curriculum and improve the existing one. Thinking about this gets me excited, and I’m reminded of when I was researching Rubicon before I started working there and came across their values list. Innovation was on that list, and it’s one of the reasons I felt good about continuing the process of working with them.
When ever I see the word INNOVATION, I envision a company or organization that is at least OPEN to improving and growing. I’m glad to report that they’re doing more than just giving lip service. The place is constantly bustling with changes and improvements. So if I see a way to improve the existing curriculum or deliver it, then I’m encouraged to organize and present my ideas.
Presenting ideas is a personal/professional challenge. If I don’t make myself vulnerable to criticism and rejection, then I can never reach my full potential in work and in life. Risk is necessary for growth, and it’s my own security that’s always at risk whether it’s the security of my comfort zone, economic security, or my reputation. When I decide to grow, I’m deciding to risk something.
This trek into the unknown requires vulnerability, and the unknown is where my best self resides – not the known. It’s like that for you, too. Your best self is not known to you. You don’t know her (or him), yet.
So it’s time to take risks and put my best ideas out there. Sure, I use this blog to make myself vulnerable, but like anything, there are new levels of vulnerability that I will have to pass through to experience the fullness of life.
The Economic Empowerment Equation
I woke up the other day, out of a dream with three big ideas that will lead anyone to economic empowerment. For some time, I’ve been thinking about the context of the workshop and how to better articulate this to participants. The problem of economic empowerment and how people get there must’ve been lodged in my subconscious, and it finally presented a solution.
Anyway, this is what came to me…
Personal Power is the result of understanding who and what you are, and HOW you make things happen in the world. This is important because everything starts with you. It’s about responsibility, integrity, keeping agreements, staying healthy, using your mind properly, and actualizing your full potential. It’s about having vision and allowing that vision to inspire you each day.
If you don’t understand who you are, how YOU operate, and how the world works, then it’ll be an extremely difficult ride through life.
Get to know yourself and find out how to build your self-esteem FIRST. Learn your idiosyncrasies and put yourself in the best position to win. Rely on your strengths and develop your talents.
You were designed to actualize your potential because a half grown tree that bears no fruit is of no use to anyone.
Creating Value happens when you help someone change how people FEEL and that’s why the symbol for creating value is the HEART. You can change how someone feels when you offer to CONNECT, ENTERTAIN, ORGANIZE, and SUPPORT. I recently wrote an article titled “How to be the MVP of your world” (the link will take you to the article). It’s about how people create value for one another and was recently picked up by Google News.
If you become a master at creating value, you would never go without and EVERYONE creates value to some degree, but we can ALL improve, scale, or increase the quality of the value we deliver to one another.
I got this concept beat into my head over and over again by Jay Abraham. I first began reading and listening to him back in the late 90’s and his ideas have deeply influenced my life and work.
Here’s a short video of Jay giving a seminar in Japan. One woman took the advice from this one segment and earned $1.3 million dollars. Notice one word that comes up over and over again as he’s explaining: CONNECT.
If you’re exercising your Personal Power and Creating Value in the world, then the next step in economic empowerment is Building Assets. If you spend away everything you earn OR connect with someone one day and never follow-up with them OR you don’t use your mind/body to its fullest potential then the process of building your assets and becoming wealthy cannot be achieved.
There are two types of assets: Tangible and Intangible. Tangible Assets (TA) are material resources, property, real estate, savings, stocks, bonds, businesses, art, collections and other investments. Intangible Assets (IA) are things like your health, special qualities about you, it could be a special skill or talent, specialized knowledge, your network, or a unique perspective or approach to life/business/relationships that no one else has.
(IA) creates (TA), then (TA) helps reinforce and develop more (IA).
As you’re building assets, you will begin to accumulate wealth. Wealth is more than (TA) obviously. You could have billions of dollars worth of assets, but what good is all that if you’re 40 years old and on your deathbed? Your health will always be your biggest asset and is one of the biggest indicators of how truly wealthy you are.
As I develop more ideas around my presentation for the workshops at work, I’ll share them here. The concepts I’m working on are applicable to many people, not just a select few.
A couple of months ago I would’ve never written about economic empowerment, so the career path I’ve chosen for myself is having the effect on my life that was originally intended. I am also developing skills and strengths that will benefit me for decades to come, so I couldn’t be happier about how this is all working out.
I’ve begun work on chapter 2 of Alien Aesop, so expect that in a week or two. Chapter 2 is gonna be a doozy 🙂
Here’s to everyone’s economic empowerment…
Paul “Poverty Killa” Campillo