Episode 30: Repurpose Your Past for Future Success, with Meshell Baker



Good afternoon everyone, my name is Lynn S. Evans and I am the host of Power of the Purse podcast. 

There was a time in my life not long ago when I believed three things about money. One, women are not supposed to talk about or be included in any conversations about money. Two, women don’t have the natural ability to understand anything about money. And number three, men know best how to manage money. 

And those truths I made up about money guided me for years, until I realized money was not a foreign language or some other obscure academic exercise. And it was something I could not only understand, but teach to other women. 

Too many times I’ve heard stories from women who ought to know better about money but didn’t, until they were forced to, because of divorce, widowhood, job loss or the approach of retirement.

This podcast will add another chapter to a rich history of women who, when faced with some personal challenges, found the ability to step beyond them. We’ll examine some of the truths they made up about money from their life experiences, and how that shaped the paths they chose. My mission is to help women have a healthy, positive relationship with money. With that in mind, my guest today is Meshell Baker. 

Meshell is the congruency catalyst, a highly engaging and captivating international speaker, purpose coach, trainer and well-respected teacher of vision. Her mission is to empower as many as possible to experience joy and excitement for their lives. She does this through the unique vision development process. 

Meshell’s clients move from uncomfortable to uncompromising by creating successful vision and mission strategies that increase revenues, build social awareness, and become key players in their communities.

Welcome, Meshell.

Thank you Lynn. This is so wonderful to be here, and an honor to be speaking with you today.

Well, thank you. I really think that from everything I’ve heard of you, everybody just praises you to the hilt and talks about you with an energy force that’s probably greater than gravity. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have a suspicion it may be.

Let’s talk first about your business. I’m interested in knowing how you picked the term “congruency” in the first place.

How does congruency work in with what you do?

Congruency is a fancy word for alignment. And I have the gift for alliteration, so what I found was that people really got that energy, that excitement, and go into action when they were around me.

My clients, they take off. I watch their trajectory change. So I started with a couple of different iterations, vision, development, and action, catalyst. And then we came with congruency because I just needed to have alliteration.

Okay, so the congruency catalyst. I love it, I’ve never heard anything like that before. But I think it’s a … when I read it the first time, my question was, “What does that mean?” And you just explained it.

So I guess it’s not so much the title but the results.

It is indicative … I help people to go and align their belief and behaviors so they can have a better life and a better business.

And what inspired you to do this?

Well, when I stepped into entrepreneurship, I was coached that everyone is an expert in something already. So it’s that question, what is the number one question you are asked? And the number one question I’ve always been asked was, how do you do that? And I would go, “Do what?” And they were like, “How do you do you? You’re the same person all the time. Everything rolls off you like water off a duck’s back. How do you do that? How are you always smiling? How are you always happy?”

And that’s what I found was, as I sat with self and journaled and did some internal work, I’m like, “Yeah, I guess that is a good question.”

And I found that it’s because I have a clarity of purpose, which gives the mind’s eye a picture to where I want to be. And I don’t let outside circumstances deter me, distract me, delay me or deny me from what I know that I’m capable of doing.

And what is that purpose that you’ve discovered?

So, my purpose is to empower as many people as possible so that they can experience joy and excitement. My natural gift to the world is that I am a relentless optimist. I actually basically help people repurpose their past. The number one reason I see that my clients are struggling is they talk about stuff they didn’t have or they didn’t get, or disappointments, or what they can’t do.

And I talk all of that energy, it’s like buckshot. It’s like they’re spraying buckshot, and I get it to the laser focus of what I call the sniper scope. And then when you take all that energy, you’re already doing something. Because I don’t move parked cars, so you need to be in motion and take all that energy, and focus it on one destination.

My question always is, how many places can you arrive at once? And they say one. I say, so why are you trying to arrive at 10?

That’s a good question. I like that one. It kinda helps people say, “Yeah, where have I been scattering all of my focus and my energies, when the reality is that if I can focus on one thing and get that done, boy, I’ll be happy. That would be a nice thing.”

So how do you help people find that focus?

I’m a person of faith, and I tell people I’m not a religious snob. You can call on God, I’ll call on my universe’s divine spirit, the goddess, whatever you call  there’s a higher power. And something that’s out there, the universe, that wants to work on your behalf. So what I do is I ask the question, how can I most efficiently help people do this? Because we’re all squirrels, there’s so much grabbing at our attention right now.

So how do I capture someone’s attention and help them get focused and stay focused? Acquire that focus, and then maintain it for the long haul. I’m a true believer that purpose in life, anything good, it doesn’t come in a tuxedo with a red carpet and a limo. It comes with an overall, a pickax and shovel, and a pickup truck. It’s work.

Oh, that’s good. There’s a visual. I like that.

It’s work. So the question that I help my clients answer is, what would you do if you knew you would not fail? That generally uncovers their elephant. And some people don’t even have an answer to that, because they’ve never really thought about it, they’ve been spending their life doing what they thought they should do, what they ought to do, or doing for other people. So sometimes it takes them more work just to find the answer to that question.

Yeah, that is a great question. And I think it’s one of those questions that you say to yourself, why didn’t I think about that before? Because that really does uncover all the noise that’s there, about why it is that you can’t do that particular thing that you want.

And I think failure is the thing that’s usually thrown up in our face as the reason why we shouldn’t do this. We hear all of the naysayers about, “Well, did you think about this? Did you think about this? Because if you do this, you can’t have that,” and blah blah blah.

Much of what I do and have been doing, is working with women who are close to retirement. You can’t imagine all of the reasons why I hear about, “I can’t do this.”

And it’s all stuff about, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” And that’s a great question to ask them. What would they do if they knew they couldn’t fail?

Because I think that would open up the doors for so many people to just really live a very rich and joyful life in so-called retirement. And it’s a great question. I really appreciate that. 

Let me ask you something else. I know that you’ve had a very interesting childhood in the sense that it caused some defining moments for you as you experienced things as a teenager. So would you share some of that with our listeners?

Oh, absolutely. My life is an open book. When I was younger, my grandfather was a sharecropper in Louisiana who actually bought his property and was well known for his fruit and vegetable stand. And my father later took a turn, and he owns a small business.

So I had an entrepreneurial spirit in me, but parents divorced, was raised in not the greatest neighborhood, urban environment. But I had three businesses when I was 13. Babysitting, baking and sewing.

Tell me about that baking one, because I’m fascinated by that. How did you get that started, and how did you find the people to sell the baked goods to?

So I started with the Easy Bake oven.

Get out. Did you really?

I got an Easy Bake oven as a little girl and I just found I love to bake.

Oh okay, I thought you were telling me you were baking those things in an Easy Bake oven. That would be an amazing thing to see. So that’s what got you started. So then from there?

I found that as any child looking for affirmation and affection, I really enjoyed baking. And I had a natural gifting for it, and it really made people happy. I saw that baked goods really brought about joy.

Being in such a tumultuous upbringing, I was just thirsting as the oldest sibling to try to make the parents and the adults around me happy, because when the adults were happy, it made life easy for us.

Yeah. So what were your favorite things that you baked?

My favorite things to bake were cookies and cakes.

And what were your best sellers?

Pardon?

What were your best sellers?

Probably my chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.

All right.

Yeah. Oatmeal raisin, with or without nuts, and chocolate chip with or without nuts, were my best sellers.

That’s great.

And my mom worked at the phone company, she was a manager of operators. So I took a three-ring binder, took a Ladies’ Home Journal and a Good Housekeeping, and created a book. Half of it was pages and made prices, stuck it on. Half the book was where you could order, and the second half was placing your order.

So she was home on Wednesdays, and she delivered the goods on Fridays.

That’s great. Well obviously you had an assistant to help with all this.

Yeah.

So that’s what made it work, I suppose, because you had the audience to sell to. But what was the third thing you said you had as a business?

Babysitting and then sewing. All the women in my family, we know how to sew. Tailoring, it’s one of those things that we don’t even know why. It’s kinda like that story, they cut off the end of the hand, you don’t know why, you just do.

Yeah. So then what happened after you had all these businesses? How old were you then?

Well, my mom was challenged between boyfriends or whatever was going on. A lot of stuff was going on in the household that probably shouldn’t have happened. And I just got tired … I got really frustrated where I was. There was no one who spoke thoughtful, kind things.

And all my friends in the public school system, everyone around me teased me. They made me feel really bad because I had all these endeavors. Like why are you doing it? That’s so stupid.

And at 13, it requires someone, an adult, to come in and really help a child understand that what people are saying to you don’t matter, to tell you why it doesn’t matter. And to really just help you step outside of your circumstances.

So I gave up, I just stopped. I don’t even remember when I stopped, or why I stopped. I just know that at one point, I just got tired of being teased and being different, so I just gave in and did what the crowd did. And by the time I was 20 years old, I was incarcerated.

Incarcerated for what?

Grand theft larceny.

Oh. That’s good. I know how that happened, so why don’t you tell everybody what the circumstances were?

I actually worked at a store, and it was some fraud involved, but we were stealing stuff from the store we worked at. Me and a couple of colleagues, we were actually stealing, we were straight-up stealing, and using other people’s credit cards to do it.

So once you were caught and sent to jail, where was the moment where you just said, “I’m not gonna live like this at all anymore, I’m gonna change what I’m doing.”

How did that happen?

Once I got into jail and started meeting the other prisoners and realized that if I thought I was weird before, or out of place before, I was really out of place.

You were out of place because why, a different set of values than they did?

A different set of values and just vocabulary, spoke a lot different than everyone there.

Uh-huh. I can almost hear that now, I’m sure.

Yeah, so that was the first time when I sat and created this business. I realized that was the first time I experienced the power of vision. In my mind’s eye, all I knew is that when I got out of there, I wasn’t going back and I was willing to do whatever it took no matter what.

To me, when you get into proper purpose, and vision and power that will propel you past obstacles, hurdles, naysayers, critics, your fears, doubt, is when you get to that no matter what.

And what was the purpose? You’ve mentioned what you thought your purpose was. But how did you corral that into a business? What was your thought about how you’re gonna create a business out of that purpose?

When I stepped out of corporate, it was to be my sister’s live in aide and caregiver. I had a six-figure salary as a biotechnology consumables and bench top instruments rep for a company, a very Fortune 500 company. I was a travel rep, executive, 80 percent travel, 10-state territory doing exceptionally well.

But I saw my sister was struggling and living with our parents, and I had her come down to Austin to attend an adult program here. And I just realized once she was here, what was I gonna do, send her back? It just didn’t seem right. So I stepped out. And I understood SMART goals, so I went and started Googling goals and purpose, because I heard someone speak at a networking event, and I heard them talk about purpose was a perpetual goal. And that when you chase stuff in status, you want to get a house, you want to get a promotion, you want to get …

It’s all, once you get there, it’s almost like you’re depressed. When you’re a high-drive person, that when you know your purpose, everything else is just part of that. You’ll never have the ups and downs…you’ll just be in constant momentum. And I was like, that’s what I want. I want to be in constant momentum. Because I knew and had experienced momentum, but it was for stuff in status.

Yeah. And then you developed a vision, a process?

I went and saw a vision board, and I looked at what they said. Basically everything I pulled down was telling me to put everything on a board, which was more stuff in status. So I didn’t like that, so I thought about how I had lived my life, which was being a person of value. My mantra is, “You will be better off for having met me, period.”

Oh, that’s wonderful.

My circumstances don’t get to dictate that. It’s the inside job. So I took the process of who I was and what the number one question people ask me, and I added to it. So the board that people create is simply the visual manifestation of who they’re going to become and the things they’ll acquire on that journey. It’s not about them going to get a house and a husband. It’s about who they’re going to become, and understanding that you’re not getting a husband, you’re creating a marriage. You’re not getting a house, it’s a home for you and your family, where you will be an incredible wife and mother.

So I’m very clear on that in my workshop.

Do people struggle to find what that purpose is?

Oh dear god, yes. And that’s why I ask as part of my purpose, how can I help more people? How can I get clear on how to create something that would help people get there quicker, or more efficiently, or have a better understanding? So this is where I’m setting off the next year, on an RV.

I purchased an RV. It’s gonna get wrapped and I’m going around the country, cause I just really want to speak to more people in person and understand why there’s such a struggle for purpose.

If you do that, what happens with your commitment to your sister?

Oh, my sister … oh my god, please. We could have a Sophie’s Choice crying moment on that one.

My sister was actually the one who planted the seed.

Really?

She’s the one in the living room and said, cause she’s seen me be up all night. “Go to sleep,” and I’d be there prepping, and she’d wake up, and she knows I love to drive, cause I’ve driven her on many trips and taken her on many places because her sight is dissipating, so I’m trying to help her create as many memories as possible.

So she said, “Man, you love to drive, you love to travel, you love working with people. Why don’t you just get one of those RV things and travel around the country and do that?” And then she walked out the room. So matter-of-factly.

She dropped a bomb in your lap.

It was like a mic drop moment, I kid you not, Lynn. And she walked out.

So I went in her room, and I was like, “Oh my god, that’s brilliant. Where did you get…”

And she said, “Well, you gave me one of these Dream Big boards, and I look at it every day.” She’s like, “Go for your dream.” She’s like, “What? I’m doing what you told me to do.”

She was just so…

That’s funny. I love it. So is she coming with you?

No, she has disabilities that require that she always be in close proximity to a major healthcare center. So unfortunately … she went with me to pick it up, and I could see how much … so I’m gonna try as much as possible to take her to some places that aren’t too far off the grid, but she can’t actually be with me at all times. Oh god, I wish.

Well now, how is that gonna work when you drive a bus into Chattanooga, Tennessee, and you park it somewhere? Are people gonna know that you’re coming? How are you gonna get people to come onto the bus, the RV?

Well, it’s actually an RV, so it’s a conversion van, I don’t have an actual bus yet, that’s the goal. The name is actually, I bought the URL, and the hashtag,  I’ve got Twitter accounts, Instagram, they’re just not up yet, and it’s the Dream Big bus. That was not taken.

So it’s the Dream Big bus. And for now, people will be able to take tours, but I’ll have it wrapped, so you can see the outside, and if there’s conferences, most of those conferences you can drive things in. More than anything, the question that I’m putting on the side of the RV is, what would you do if you knew you would not fail?

So even if you never meet me, you just drive past me, that question is going to be seated in your mind.

So let’s follow through with that. Let’s say you’re in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and you’re there because there’s a convention there, and you’re gonna go and park the RV there. What would people do with that? Do they just step onto the RV whenever and talk to you? Do they schedule time? How much time will they have?

Yeah, so right now I’m working to create the vision development process, so there’s an online tool. So by the time I leave and set off in April, because we’re in the final stages, I had someone come in and videotape one of my workshops, so that’ll be an offering that they can actually acquire online.

I have a Facebook page that I’ve set up, that’s coming through. I have  crowdfunding. So there’ll be different levels of interfacing with me, where you’ll be able to be part of a private monthly call, to be part of different things if you opt in and support at a certain crowdfunding level.

So I’m gonna give people as many opportunities to engage with me and follow me. And then we’ll do a contest for the next year, for people to post their boards. I have things come on from their boards, I want to see, who are the big dreamers out there? Get people to start posting boards so that they can post what’s on their board and then post when they actually have done it.

That’s great. That’ll be very exciting to see all that. You’ll really know how many lives you changed when you see something like that.

Exactly. So the goal for me is that it’s not that I didn’t hear this, it’s just that I didn’t hear it in a way that I understood it. And I get that…there’s seven billion people on the planet. I don’t need to touch seven billion, I just need to touch the ones that I’m called to touch. I don’t need to take over the world.

I always think of that Marianne Williamson poem, it’s about letting your light shine because someone else needs me to shine so that they can shine.

Yeah. Let me turn this focus around here, to something that I’m curious about. I know that when we are growing up, as I mentioned initially, I developed what I would call some truths about money that weren’t necessarily true.

But I think that for all of us who reached some level of adulthood, and some level of success, money is very much a part of all of that. The lack of it, or the abundance of it, or the desire for more, whatever it is. And when we stop and take a look at where did we create these myths about money, in most cases it happens when we’re children or young adults. 

So let me ask you a couple questions, because I’m curious to know how you created whatever the stories are you have about money.

So when you were a child, what was the one thing you learned about money? 

All I can remember is being raised in church and hearing that money is the root of all evil. Seriously. So that really set me up to have a really bad relationship. That’s self-limiting belief, right?

Yep, that’s a big one. So then, when did it occur to you that that wasn’t necessarily true?

When I found a church that had a better teaching, and they basically said, “Many of you have probably heard this, but it’s not. It’s the love of money.”

Well, there you go. Yeah. What was one of your first experiences with money?

I was really good at acquiring it. Because, 13, my parents were divorced. My mom at the time was married to, I don’t even want to say the man’s name, he was such a horrible person. But he was an alcoholic who just really ran through her wallet and he was just a horrible person.

But I remember her coming to me for money. I’m 13 and I’m giving her money.

Yeah, that’s not good.

Okay, so were there any defining moments you can think of that made you say, “That’s never gonna happen to me”?

Yes. This one incident where she was actually begging him not to take the last of her money.

Oh okay. And he either did or he didn’t?

Oh, he did.

Oh, okay. Oh well. All right.

So when you were looking at all of this … I had that moment there, when I observed something like that going on in my house. Not exactly that, but something that made me create these myths about money.

So when you saw that happen with your mother, and that conversation that she was asking you for money and this guy took the last penny she had, what did you say about yourself and your relationship with money?

That I’m never going to rely on anybody else to be my provider. That I will always be able to provide my own roof over my own head.

Yeah. So you’ve pretty much done that.

Yes, I have.

Are there any women that were in your life that you can recall who provided you with any kind of advice that you think really made a difference?

When it came to money, not that I can think of, no.

What would you say would be the best and the worst financial decisions you’ve ever made?

The best financial decision I ever made was when I bought my first house. That was a great experience. The worst decision I ever made was getting so caught up in what other people were doing and had, that instead of buying more houses to rent, I actually renovated my house so it would be pretty.

Oh, well that’s cool. That’s really great. I like that story. Most people would say, you just keep acquiring them.

And there’s value in that. I don’t want to diss that thing, because certainly many people buy commercial properties that they renovate and then they rent them out, and that’s a very viable way to create wealth. There’s no question about it.

But I want to think farther along the lines here. I wonder if you’ve ever given any thought to what I termed before, retirement.

Termed before retirement? No.

What I’ve termed before, I use the word retirement. And I don’t want to lead you down the path, but what I’m saying is, for the most part, people think of it as a particular time in their life and age. It’s usually related to an age, and there’s usually a number attached to that of what they think they need in order to have what they might call a successful retirement. 

You don’t strike me as somebody who is working until a certain age, and then you’re gonna retire. So I’m looking at this and saying, where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Do you see yourself retired? Do you see yourself moving on to something else? Or is this a commitment you have to what you’re doing that you’ll probably do for as long as you can? 

I will do this for as long as I can. This is literally why I was so bent on purpose. I don’t retire from purpose because purpose is just me, it’s who I am.

Exactly. Yeah. That’s the point I wanted to hear you say, when you’re actually that “into” what you’re doing, there is no timeframe to it, there’s no desire to get out of it or move away from it into something else. And that, I think, is the key to what you’re talking about. That when you really are living your life on purpose, it has no timeframe. I think you would agree.

Absolutely. It has no timeframe.

What’s your next step?

Right now, my next step is to build a business that allows me to be mobile, as well as it allows me to buy some properties.

So now I don’t have home ownership, and I would like to own some investment properties. Austin is my home base, that I have something here, where I can have a portion of it for me, but the other portion of it is actually a four-plex. Three units paying for the thing itself and then when I come to Austin I’ll have somewhere. And the other times, it can be like an Airbnb, something like that.

Oh, that’s cool. I like that.

Thinking about some key places where I’d like to be able to be comfortable. Dallas is where my parents are, my sister is actually, she’s going back to Dallas. She decided that she wanted to go back to Dallas. And I was just so grateful that we didn’t force her hand, she actually said, she wants to go back and be close to our parents. And she’s okay with that.

Yeah, that’s nice. So after you do that, what’s next for you with your purpose?

One of the consistent requests that I’ve had, because I’ve been blessed that part of my vision was to be able to use this process as supporting other entrepreneurs who have conferences, and what happens is, when they have me come in and do vision development at the beginning of whatever their retreat or conference is, their clients actually walk away and do so much better, because they’re clear.

So that process, if I’m at their retreat or conference, they actually do it themselves. So I’ve been asked that I license that. So my next thing is to create a licensing process for this so that…that’ll create a stream of income, again, for me to be able to build something so that I can…

I don’t have children, so there’s no need to leave something. But I want to hire universities, I can create a scholarship, or there’s people who are incarcerated who want to be entrepreneurs. Create a scholarship for something like that.

That’s spectacular. I love it. That’s really great stuff. Well, I want to thank you, Meshell Baker, for being a guest on my Power of the Purse podcast today.

To all of you in my Power of the Purse community, I hope today’s podcast was helpful in enriching your understanding of money and how it can help you in achieving your life goals. If you’d like to spend 15 minutes on a call with me and ask me questions about your personal finances, please go to my website, PowerofthePursePodcast.com. Select the Contact tab, and find a time that works for you.

Thanks again, Meshell, for sharing your time and knowledge, and would you share with everyone how they can get a hold of you?

Yes. You can go to my website, that’s M-E-S-H-E-L-L, Baker, B-A-K-E-R, dot com. And you can go onto the tab Contact, and you can scroll down and select time to have a conversation. Or just email me directly at info@meshellbaker.com. And that’s my name. Info@meshellbaker.com

Fabulous. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. And until the next time, thanks for listening. And remember, money is not the enemy. Your ignorance of it is. Goodbye.

How to contact Meshell:

More Information on Meshell’s Offerings:

VISION makes the invisible visible and the impossible possible. Time to ignite the momentum needed to sustain your drive through the challenges, obstacles, disappointments, naysayers, rejection, failures that life throws at you! Grab your copy of How to Make Your VISION Billboard. Making the investment to create a more passionate life will put you squarely on a path to intersect with A CLEARLY DEFINED PURPOSE. http://meshellrbaker.com/vision-billboard/


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