In the Limelight with Clarissa Burt interviews Sharon Lechter: Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Best-Selling Author
Clarissa: Hey everybody, it's Clarissa here and you are In the Limelight with yet another exceptional guest. Not only is she a friend of mine, but she's a friend to many. She's known as the Lady of Grace. I took a look at a lot of the testimonials that are coming in on her behalf and they are all so lovely and kind. Because she is so lovely and kind, she is a mentor to many and a jack of many trades. May I say, this is a lady that I am very fortunate to call a friend of mine. It's lovely to see her here on this podcast in this interview today. Hello Sharon Lechter, welcome to In the Limelight!
Sharon Lechter: Hello my dear Clarissa, I think the last three times we've seen each other, we were in other cities. We both live here in Arizona and seldom seen each other here.
Clarissa: One time we were on the other side of the world when we saw each other, we had a whole week together. Which was, I think, a really great indication that we are good friends because we could be a whole week together and love each other more after the trip was over than before it started. I was looking on your Facebook this past weekend and it looks like there's way too much fun going on at that ranch.
Sharon Lechter: We had an incredible weekend. Mike and I own a ranch called Cherry Creek Lodge. It is completely off the grid, all solar power, our own well water we have a lake for fishing, horseback riding, and shooting. It's a fantastic place to take your family as a guest ranch is called CherryCreekLodge.com. Mike and I hold retreats there and this last weekend, we had a group of people, entrepreneurs, and business owners up there. We just had an incredible time! We have another one right before Thanksgiving, we do them periodically. We bring everybody together and there's masterminding and one on one deep dives. This weekend I had Elaine Rawles with me, who is one of the top marketing and advertising agencies founder. She's brought in all the current trends on what Google's doing and how to establish your personal brand. We talked about goals as we prepare for 2020 and the whole theme of the retreat was to energize, get out in the clean air and get some of God's beauty to strategize and mobilize.
Clarissa: Now, it looked like it was a great time, but obviously there was some great masterminding going on. There was a beautiful, great room with the fireplace and it looked like the most wonderful, lovely, cozy place to be taking that deeper dive into your business. You started out as an accountant many years ago, obviously, that has grown into something bigger, better, and greater. You teach financial literacy to many people and I was wondering, are you still surprised at how many people are financially illiterate?
Sharon Lechter: Oh, I'm devastated. In fact, there was just a study released earlier this year, 59 percent of employees and corporations are financially stressed. We see our economy doing so well and people's wages increase, but depending on which survey you read, it can be anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of Americans still living paycheck to paycheck. It's a global issue and my mission is to teach our children what they need to know about finances. Unfortunately, I'm as passionate about it today as I was 30 years ago because we still have a long way to go.
Clarissa: I know that you do a lot of lobbying around financial literacy. Not only were you a part of the Financial Literacy Commission at the Obama White House, but I know that you've been doing a lot of lobbying here in the state of Arizona with the governor, Doug Ducey. When is it that we might be able to see more taking place in the way of education around financial literacy in schools?
Sharon Lechter: When I was on the Financial Literacy Commission for Presidents Bush and Obama, we did have the Credit Card Act passed that prevents credit card companies from solicitation at students on campus for credit cards. That's a small issue, but it certainly it stops most predatory actions that were happening to these young college freshman coming to campus for the first time. In Arizona, we successfully passed a law five years ago that requires personal finance to be taught for high school graduation. There are only five states in the nation that require a separate class. Twelve others require it to be taught, but it can be assimilated into other courses. In Arizona, that was successfully passed, now we are back at the plate because we want it to be a separate class. A couple of months ago I had the honor of being appointed by our treasurer, Kimberly Yee to head the Arizona Financial Literacy Task Force as it relates to personal finance, education and K-through-12 education.
Clarissa: One thing I have to say, since I met you probably 10 years ago, every time I turn around, you're out of town or you're at another networking event. You're illuminating a lot of people and you're teaching people everything that you know, you're mentoring. From a business perspective, what was your crowning moment?
Sharon Lechter: Well, Clarissa, I get asked that question a lot. In fact, I was in an interview a little while ago and I had that same question. My tongue in cheek answer is always, the next one. I was raised by a father who said, “Have you added value to someone's life today?” That type A personality there's this ‘keep driving, keep going and keep getting there' attitude. From a business perspective, it was when we hit The New York Times list. After three years out in publishing with Rich Dad Poor Dad, we actually hit The New York Times, USA Today and back then BusinessWeek magazine lists. That was a huge achievement because it validated the fact that we were making an impact and we did it on our own. That was before we had a mainstream publisher to support us. Amazon didn't exist at the time, we couldn't have a bunch of people buy it one hour, there were no shortcuts. We stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for seven years. But I'm most proud of the individual comments that come in. People tell me that they read something that inspired them or changed their life. That's when I feel like I have more to do.
Clarissa: You had enormous success with Think and Grow Rich for Women and Outwitting the Devil. Now you've got a new book out that I'd love for you to show everybody. Called Success and Something Greater. Talk to us a little bit about this last opera and what the message is.
Sharon Lechter: My friend, Greg Reid and I did, Three Feet From Gold, 10 years ago. We got back together and said, “It's our anniversary of working together, we should do something new.” We agreed to do another book and thus Success and Something Greater. This one had some bumps along the way, it took us a couple of years, but we finally got it done. It going to be called, The Magic Key because it's also with the Napoleon Hill Foundation. But Don Green reached out to me and said, “Sharon, I think you should use the title that Napoleon Hill was going to use for his last film that never got published.” That's what's so special about this title, Success and Something Greater was kind of his dying wish, he wanted to do this book. We had the honor of being able to pull this together, we highlight close to 20 people on their success stories and what success means to them and how they took that success and gave back. It's a great book full of wonderful information for people looking for what they should do.
Clarissa: What does success mean for you?
Sharon Lechter: Success. It's how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror. It has nothing to do with dollars and cents. You're financially free when income from your assets exceeds your monthly expenses. It doesn't need to be millions of dollars. The issue is how do you feel about yourself? I have a lot of very rich friends who are not happy. They might be a success financially, but they're not a success in life. Right? A lot of friends who are still struggling financially, but they're very happy in their life. Success is how you feel about yourself at the end of the day.
Clarissa: You've always said that the sexiest word on the planet is assets.
Sharon Lechter: Nice word, the word assets. But it really is because no matter where you live, no matter what language you speak, if you are wealthy, it's because you have assets. Too many people live their lives just exchanging their personal time for money and it's really hard to get ahead. Instead, I want you to invest your time in creating, buying or building an asset. That asset can then be an employee for you to generate income while you sleep. Assets are the name of the game.
Clarissa: The second one you say, is royalty's, and the third one is leverage.
Sharon Lechter: Yes, a royalty is when someone else is paying you for using your technology or your, in our case, books. We used to pay a lot of royalties when I had the Talking Book of Business for Kids because I pay Disney and Warner Brothers to use a line. I was writing pretty big checks and I thought, “Next time I build a business, I want those checks coming to me.” Royalties means somebody else is venturing with you, wanting to pay you to be aligned with you. That's the best kind of leverage because you're taking what you've created and you're getting revenue sources from different channels.
Clarissa: How about leverage?
Sharon Lechter: That's what leverage is all about, having what you do done by other people. Now, the other side of leverage is good debt. If you're into real estate, leverage is instead of spending one hundred thousand dollars for a house, you spend 20 thousand. The bank gives you 80 and you have a hundred thousand dollar asset and your tenant is paying that debt. You're able to take that cash flow and keep it when the debt gets paid down, you own 100 percent of the asset. You own 100 percent of the revenue and the bank has been paid off. That leverage is them loaning you money against that asset.
Clarissa: I love that last book, by the way. I love the idea there and everything that you were talking about. I do want to talk about the Play Big movement. I want to know why, because I was very surprised when I was watching your video today to hear you say, I want to play big again. What did the again mean?
Sharon Lechter: When I started the talking book business I just shared with you, we went to Disney, Warner Brothers, and Sesame Street when I was building Rich Dad. We worked with Warner Books and Time-Life. We're always looking for that bigger player that can exponentially increase your revenue. That's what I do. What's that next association? How can you leverage what you have and grow exponentially? But in December of 2012, I lost my youngest son. I'm sure people will say they have had something stop them in their tracks. It was as if I put my life in neutral. I was numb and I stopped playing big. I was still working, writing, and doing things, but I wasn't reaching out. I was just kind of hiding, doing what I needed to do to keep going. I think a lot of people feel that numbness at some point in their life. The world starts beating you up and you have to make a decision. A couple of years ago I thought I should retire. I got a lot of pushback from family and friends. I made the decision instead of retiring, to refire and get back into the game of life and business and start playing big again. Now, the movement is called The Play Big Movement because not everybody needs to do it again, a lot of people need to start. The reason I created the movement, which is a free Facebook group, is I'm sure the things that I'm doing that way other people can learn from that and do it in their life. We don't advertise it, we've just have grown organically. The people in there are all committed to their own success, committed to giving back. The Play Big Movement means being number one in your field, living your legacy, and creating maximum impact. When I made the decision to do that, I wanted to do it out in the open. Once I made that commitment, I opened myself up to the possibility and all kinds of things have come to me. I want that to happen to everybody in that group. Put yourself in the place of greatest potential.
Clarissa: If somebody comes and signs up for the group, what can they expect?
Sharon Lechter: There's a lot of interaction between the people in the group. I do a weekly broadcast on my regular professional page, but I do a private session on Thursday mornings just for the Play Big Group. I have a podcast called, The Play Big Moment with Sharon Lechter podcast, everybody can sign up for that as well. I do a secondary shorter recording just for the group and The Play Big Movement will go deeper into what success means to them and what habits they have. It's really an opportunity for people to learn from a lot of experts to continue to show what you feed your mind is important. I want to provide the tools for people to feed their mind with the possibilities.
Clarissa: What was the one story or person that stands out in your mind that you majorly changed the trajectory of their life?
Sharon Lechter: I just talked to a young man who I had not known before last week. He read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Outwitting the Devil. In the last year, he has created a multimillion-dollar networking organization with 39 cities across the country. He basically gave me the credit for having him thinking outside the box to create something. That's one of many people that have found that inspiration and take action. It's not because of me, it's because of something I wrote that inspired them and they took it from there. I challenge everybody to take action. I have someone else who was a coach, now she has events in 10 countries and is coaching multimillion-dollar businesses. Her accountant said, “Whatever you're doing, keep doing this. Your income increased five hundred percent in one year.”
Clarissa: Wow. Like I said, you're one of the busiest ladies that I know. I'm looking on social and you're in some other city, maybe even another country enlightening and illuminating many people. Over the next five years, where do you see yourself?
Sharon Lechter: I am going to write a book about re-firing. I have a book out next year on, Exit Rich, because I want to help business owners understand how to build the foundation of their business to the point where they can sell it. From a personal perspective, in the next five years, I am in the process of doing more online. I never focused on internet marketing or sharing my story or educating people. We've now finished three very incredibly intensive college-level courses that are online. One is called, Money Mastery, one is called the Play Big Movement, and the other one is, The Essential Components of a Successful Business, where we really dive deep into building that asset that can work for you. We're in the process now of the testing phase of being able to do webinars and attract people that are looking for that information.
Clarissa: It's incredible, just as you are. Tell everybody where we can find you before we say goodbye.
Sharon Lechter: I am Sharon Lector everywhere. You can visit my Web site SharonLechter.com. I have an events page there where you can see where I am all over the world and I also have the podcast there. You can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, all Sharon Lecter's. Also, The Play Big Movement with Sharon Lechter Facebook page.
Clarissa: You know I love you, lady.
Sharon Lechter: I love you, too. Safe travels. ✧