What 3 Self-Made Millionaires Want You to Know About Building Wealth

I’m a contributor to Business Insider and often write about personal finance. I recently participated in an important project there about the racial wealth gap, which was developed by my editor.

For instance, the United States has the greatest number of millionaires — 18.6 million, or 40 percent of the world total, according to the 2019 Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse — but that doesn’t mean millionaires are the majority of this country’s population. In fact, the report notes that the level of wealth inequality “is high, both within countries and for the world as a whole.”

Since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

The gap is even wider when we look at Black and white Americans. In recent decades, the median net worth for white households has “far exceeded” that for Black households, according to the Brookings Institution, and the gap is only growing.

Still, I think it’s important to highlight the Black people who have found success in America over the years. Knowing our history matters, but we also can consider how to grow beyond our original circumstances. I decided that I wanted to write a story about it. I pitched my editor, and got the assignment.

By the way, if you want to learn how to be a professional writer, or write for outlets you love, check out my recent YouTube video.

So how can we build wealth? One way is to know what’s possible and how to do it. But we don’t always discuss money openly in America.

I’ve dedicated my career to sharing information. And since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

So see my story over on businessinsider.com for straightforward advice on building wealth from three Black millionaires—who didn’t start out that way. Then check out the other stories in the series, including my second piece on how to bridge the investing gap.

Do you realize you can build wealth? Do you want to learn more about how, including advice on investing? I’ve written about this in the past (and done YouTube videos) and plan to keep sharing on this!

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Video: You CAN Make Money as a Writer—5 Truths

Want to make money as a writer? You can. You just have to know the truth about common myths, and then push forward to get there. 

Some background: If you’ve visited my site before you know my writing has reached tens of millions of readers over my career. And I’ve worked as a freelance writer, magazine editor, staff writer and editor, and more. 

During this time, I’ve seen similar questions from people who want to get started writing or get better at it. And I’ve often seen writers make the same mistakes. So in this video, I present five myths about professional writing—and share the truth about each one.

If you want to get paid to write for a career, or even for a side hustle as we work more from home, this video is for you. 

Watch for the facts about how you can get started—or get better!—writing for magazines, websites, and more. And info on how you can make money in the writing business. 

Then feel free to like or share this video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Or comment or email me if you have any questions about professional writing or want a free consult for my coaching program.

And stay tuned—I’ll be sharing more videos with you!

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Panel Presentation: How to Connect With Diverse Audiences

A screenshot from the ASJA line-up.

Diversity may seem like a buzz word these days. But it’s more than that—and it’s important to keep in mind if we’re communicating with other people for work…and beyond.

As writers, we seek to develop and share stories that are well-reported, accurate, and engaging. To do this, we should know when stories are indeed ours to write, how to connect with sources who are reflective of the landscape, which terms to use (and avoid) to help provide clarity and avoid stereotypes, and more.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors virtual conference to talk about all of this. And to share tips and considerations for reporting and writing stories that can accurately represent a variety of sources and effectively connect with diverse audiences.

By the way, diversity doesn’t just refer to differences in race and ethnicity, though those are often discussed. It also can refer to differences in gender identity, ability, religion, political affiliation, and more. Basically, we just need to keep in mind that everyone isn’t like us—and remember that our experiences are not necessarily those of our readers. We also can actively seek out interviews and discussions with people outside of our typical spheres. If we’re striving to be objective and inclusive in our story-telling, this is a start.
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So how’s your communication going these days? Are you facing any hurdles in this area?

If you missed the session, you can access the replay via ASJA. You’ll see my tips on how to find new great sources, how to connect with people who are different than you (and why you should!), and how to get introspective about your own thoughts and potential limitations so you can find success.

Talk soon!✨⁣⁣⁠⠀

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How 5 Lessons I Learned from a Furlough Can Help You in Today’s Economy

In the days before Christmas 2018, I’d been working as a writer and editor for a federal agency when I learned we needed to prepare for a possible government shutdown. 

On December 22, 2018, part of the federal government did shut down. In my office, the shutdown meant we were furloughed alongside hundreds of thousands of others. We could not report to work or receive pay; meanwhile, other federal employees had to work without pay.

I never imagined the shutdown would extend for more than a month, into 2019, and become the longest federal shutdown in history. You’d think I would have been worried, but I felt fine.

During that time, I did freelance work, reduced my expenses (while still enjoying life), kept my mindset positive, and more. In the end, the furlough was a helpful part of my financial journey.

If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money freelancing from home.

Recently, I wrote about this furlough experience for Business Insider. You can read the entire article—including details on my five personal finance tips for then and now—on BusinessInsider.com.

And if you’re looking for a way to make extra money now (like I did then), it is possible. If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money working from home. Because we do have some options, even when times are hard. And it can help to learn, and then take steps to get there.

P.S. In the end, the furlough confirmed for me (like other things in my life) that many events can help us grow. And even things that seem bad for us at first can be helpful. At least … they’ve been helpful for me.

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The World Still Needs Our Skills and Small Businesses

Pondering life in Washington, DC, in this throwback photo.

We’re in difficult times now. The news is sad, and this pandemic has changed our everyday lives and movements in ways we’ve never seen. As we’ve been encouraged to physically distance—leading to stay at-home-orders and business shutdowns—I’ve been thinking about what it means to own a business. And the role we can play in our economy, even as the economy contracts.

I settled on this: The world still needs our skills and small businesses. And we should continue to market them. Even now.

If you work as a consultant or freelancer, or own a small business, you might wonder if it’s still okay to sell your services. I wondered about this myself, especially since I’ve been developing more offerings for my success coaching program. And after doing some reading on this topic, I think it’s absolutely okay to market our services. And that we should.

⁣Small businesses contribute to the economy. And small business owners need our help right now. I just bought a face mask and earrings from Etsy sellers. I’m still assigning stories to writers as part of my consulting work.

For my part, I’m going to keep writing for media outlets and clients, working to grow my business, and supporting other business, too. If you’re able, I hope you will join me in giving that support.

With this in mind, I’m also keeping a few spots in my coaching calendar available for anyone who wants a free chat about how you can find success working for yourself (including as a writer or editor); find new clients; or just make extra money on the side, from home.

Our stories should be told. And companies still need help telling theirs.

Please feel free to email me or comment to learn more. Or if you just want a word of encouragement.

Your wellness matters. And your work does, too. ✨

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I Changed My Travel Plans Because of COVID-19. Why I’m Not Changing My Investment Strategy

I was scheduled to travel to Germany from DC during the first week of March and had been looking forward to the two-week trip. I thought the European travel would give me time to see the sights, write, and rest.

But then news of the spreading coronavirus and its fallout began to get worse, and I read about travel restrictions, quarantines, illness, and deaths. It was sobering — and really sad. I realized I needed to cancel my trip. In the days that followed, I watched the markets fall and saw worldwide news continue to worsen.

But even though reports have been rough, I’m not panicking. And even though I’ve changed my travel and social plans to be cautious, I haven’t changed my investment plans.

I’ve been writing about personal finance quite a bit lately, as the coronavirus pandemic also has had a real effect on our money. In this story for Business Insider, I revealed the three reasons why I’m leaving my investments as is.

The short version: I can stick with my investment plans because I have savings, I trust the market will recover, and I know the market isn’t the place to be emotional.

Check out the full story for the details, including info on how to avoid being an emotional investor—and why I think this market situation will change.

And feel free to pop onto on my Instagram page to tell me what you think about this topic. No matter what, I know this time is tough. Hope you are hanging in there as much as you can.

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Snapshot: Even Hard Days Can Lead to Joy

Look deeper. Feel stronger. Go farther. Be you.

Just a reminder that even the hard days—when you look in the mirror, and feel confused and tired—even these days can lead to joy.

I am in a great place now as a writer and editor working with national media outlets and other national clients. I’m thankful for this. But I had to start somewhere and learn along the way.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the early part of my early career, and ruminating on Instagram. So I figured I’d make a note here, too.

I’ve had success over the years. But these days, I still make an effort to network. And continue to amplify my knowledge by reviewing information from reputable sources and experts.

In my goal to help others, I also provide coaching to help people get started with professional writing—and to help them find success and branch out. Always feel free to contact me if you have questions about what I do. I’m happy to help and want you to know success is possible.

For now, I’m recognizing you if you’re trying to motivate yourself to go after a goal. Or pushing through difficult times. Believe in your purpose. And I’ll believe with you.

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Dating: Why We Need Boundaries—and How to Create Them

Whether I’m editing a story about relationships or writing one, dating is a subject that can be top of mind for me—and lots of us. Millions of us, perhaps. (More than 110 million Americans were single in 2016 alone, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2017, with millions now dating online and beyond.)

But all of this dating isn’t going well, as you might know if you’ve dipped into these waters.

I figured it was time to talk about this topic on video. Especially since, when it comes to men and women who are dating, there can be miscommunications about intentions, what people really want vs. what they accept…and more.

I mean, we live in the era of ghosting. Clearly some things aren’t right.

These discussions also led me to reinvigorate my YouTube channel, which you can find at www.youtube.com/user/lesliequander. So, please view this video I did with Damien Dubose—I wanted to include the male side of the discussions I’ve been having—and tell me what you think.

“Women need to demand more.” Watch my YouTube channel for the rest—including how to do it.

We talked about wanting to be asked out vs. being asked to “Netflix and chill,” what it means to have standards and really enforce them, and people who pretend to care—but don’t.

He started by telling me: “Women need to demand more.”

Mic drop. (But we kept going!)

Do listen, and please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more on relationships, writing, wellness, and more.

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Snapshot: It’s Good to be Content Alone

Solo travel in Valencia, Spain.

This is what I’m thinking about. And it’s funny that this comes to mind as I’m reporting a freelance story on dating. But these thoughts come when they do.

The reason? I’ve been traveling again, and I’ve had the best times strolling around the world by myself. Seriously. I mean, it’s nice to roam with people, too. But there’s something about doing whatever you want, whenever you want.

So I’m popping in to share this related Instagram post. ⁣What do you think? Can you roam solo—even in your hometown? Can you go to shows alone, eat out alone, even explore alone?
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If you haven’t lately, do try it. Even for an hour or a day. No harm in it. When it comes to writing, it’s actually one way to get some really great story ideas…that you can eventually share with the world. Or not. (For more tips on how to find writing inspiration, please read my related blog post.)
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And if you have thoughts, comment here or come tell me on Instagram! We had some great exchanges about how our relationships can be affected if we’re not open to spending time solo.

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6 Rules Any Investor Should Follow

I love writing about personal finance and helping people learn how to meet their goals in this area. That said, when it comes to investing, I know it can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. And even if you have experience, it never hurts to keep learning and improve your strategy.

For instance, many of us may have learned more about shoe shopping than buying stocks—and we pay for this lack of knowledge when we miss out on the returns investing can bring.

Meanwhile, some people in older generations are working longer than they’d planned. So it’s important to have an effective investing strategy for the short and long term.

To help, I recently wrote about six key investing tips for Business Insider.

Topics include:

ŸŸŸŸ–what to know about emotional investing (there are ways to avoid it)

–what it really means to diversify your portfolio (people are getting this wrong, ya’ll); and

–how much cash it actually takes to start (it’s not as much as you might think).

So how much do you actually know about investing?

Read the story to see my six tips to help you get started or grow your money. Then feel free to comment or email me and tell me what you think!

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