Financially and Professionally Fearless: SoFi in Conversation with Rebecca Minkoff

What does it mean to be fearless? In her debut book, Fearless, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother Rebecca Minkoff reflects on the journey of growing her business and the lessons she learned along the way.

“I wanted to create a business book told through the lens of the past 20 years of my life,” explained Minkoff, in conversation with SoFi Financial Planner Lauren Anastasio.

Minkoff had a chance to road test these lessons again over the past year, when the pandemic dramatically impacted her personal life and her business. Seemingly overnight, her brand lost 70% of its revenue; “What was left was just my website. How do you survive as a brand?” asked Minkoff.

During the SoFi member event, Minkoff revealed how the lessons and misadventures of Fearless guided her throughout the past year sharing insight on failure, finances, and how anyone can be fearless.

Life Design

On the surface level, it may look like Minkoff has it all–-that perfect balance of family, business, and success.
“Anyone who throws the term balance out, you have my permission to throw a glass of water at them,” joked Minkoff, who is first to admit there’s no such thing as balance. “It isn’t achievable.”

Instead, Minkoff embraces the idea of “life design,” or figuring out what you want to prioritize, and making that a reality. “Life design is sitting with a notebook, thinking about what you love, and how to shift your priorities there,” explained Minkoff.

Life design doesn’t happen overnight and requires intention, but Minkoff said juggling parenting, running a business, and playing teacher and housekeeper over the past year, illuminated how important life design was.

When schools shut down in New York City last year, Minkoff found herself attempting to balance home, motherhood, and business all at the same time. Of course, making sure her children were adjusting to school at home was a top priority, but so too was her business as it shifted with the dramatic changes of retail during COVID.

When work, school, and life became work from home, Minkoff knew she had to forget about the myth of the balancing act, and dive headfirst into life design. It only took a few days to realize how unrealistic it was for her and her husband to do it all. Very quickly, they decided what could slide between business and childcare, and what couldn’t.

Bottom line: the daily Spanish lessons weren’t happening, but Minkoff was happy to try to work through math with her kids.

Minkoff knew she needed to prioritize trying to save her business from bankruptcy, so she brought on her nanny for longer hours to help shoulder childcare and virtual learning. When schools showed no signs of reopening, Minkoff moved her family to Florida temporarily to attend school in person.

Deciding what to prioritize varies for everyone, but Minkoff recommended focusing on non-negotiables. How much are you willing to sacrifice or let slide to achieve what you really want? It’s about weighing each choice, and deciding what risk you can live with, and what you can’t.

Getting Friendly with Failure

“Women can be very scared to take risks,” Minkoff said, but when fear keeps you from trying something new, you miss out on a major learning experience.

Minkoff explained that we all need to reframe how we talk about failure. When you lose, or fail, you’re not really losing, but instead gaining knowledge, a valuable tool that will inform choices you make down the line. If we think of each failure as a new tool added to our arsenal, then losing isn’t so scary. It’s a teaching experience.

There’s value in any experience, whether it’s considered “successful” or not.

That being said, most of us are familiar with the voice in the back of our head, the fear that keeps us from trying something new, or embarking on a new venture.

“Don’t give fear that attention,” recommended Minkoff, “it’ll only grow.” The less you listen to that voice holding you back, the easier it can be to try something new without the fear of failure.

The worst thing that happens? Learning.

Fearlessness and Finance

While Minkoff is now the head of a globally recognized brand, it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of her career, she was making a few thousand dollars a month, and surviving solely on ramen.

Her first and last lessons in finance? “Don’t get a credit card until you can afford to pay it off.” It sounds simple, but Minkoff explained an unpaid credit card with a $500 limit ruined her credit for seven years, creating a stumbling block in both her personal and business finances.

Although she’s learned a lot since then, Minkoff admits she’s still learning, and embracing that failure along the way. She admitted to downloading an investing app, investing $2,000 and losing it nearly immediately. But, framing it as a lesson, Minkoff explained, “I was willing to pay $2,000 to learn more about investing in the market.”

In addition to dipping her toes into the market, Minkoff is working to normalize talking about finances. “I don’t know when I learned it was a bad thing to talk about money.” said Minkoff, but now she makes it a point to discuss the topics with friends, family, and her husband, learning more along the way.

“Those conversations are not easy to navigate,” Minkoff said, but they get easier as she grows more fearless.

One place she’s seen this payoff is splitting the finances with her husband. While the duo subscribes to separate accounts with each party contributing proportionally to a family financial account, they’re continually learning how to talk about their money with each other.

An important discovery for Minkoff and her husband? “Day dates.” Don’t leave weighty conversations about money until the end of the day as you’re crawling into bed. The couple makes time and space to talk about money, turning it into an experience instead of another box to check.

The Takeaway

Fearlessness is an ongoing practice that comes from intention, patience, and being willing to embrace failure. For Minkoff, being fearless isn’t just the way she runs her company, but a way she tries to live her life.

While fear holds many of us back, we don’t have to make these big moves all on our own. Getting started may be the hardest part, but SoFi is here to help. Just by being a member, all SoFi users have access to CEO-level career coaching. This 100% complimentary service comes courtesy of the team at Korn Ferry.

Start your journey towards fearlessness today. Schedule a one-on-one session with a coach for free.

Get Started

Check out our full conversation with Rebecca Minkoff below.

Third Party Trademarks: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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