Eternal Optimism: You have to be optimistic no matter what you are facing, no matter how hard a situation may be and feel — you have to know better days are always ahead.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ruby Taylor of Financial Joy School.
Ruby “SunShine” Taylor, M.S.W, is the CEO and Founder of Financial Joy School. Financial Joy School is a virtual educational and gaming platform that provides financial education, games and investment tools to Black and Brown youth and their families. Ruby is a double HBCU alumna (Howard University and Virginia Union University) and advocates for closing the racial wealth gap to make our world more financially equitable. Ruby resides in Baltimore, MD, with her wife, Dr. Sheila Graham, two children, and amazing dog.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
In 2012, I suffered a traumatic brain injury, and my life drastically changed. My career as a school social worker ended, and I was put in a financial crisis. I was on the verge of losing my condo and becoming homeless because I had no savings or investments. Through that challenging financial season, the parents of a former student taught me about long-term investing and the power of compounding interest. That experience put me on a new trajectory to learn and grow as a personal investor. In 8 years, I went from -15,000 dollars net worth to over 487,000 dollars and counting.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The most interesting part of my financial equalizer career thus far is when Wells Fargo granted me the ability to donate 10,000 LEGACY! Card Decks for low-to-moderate income (LMI) Black and Brown communities. I learned from that amazing experience that social good can create social impact when the micro meets the macro. Moreover, relationships matter to solve issues; we cannot do it alone.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Financial Joy School stands out because I bring fun and a welcoming space to the financial literacy and investing space for Black and Brown youth and families. Often, in the financial sector, it’s dull and unappealing. We are combating that narrative with our card game LEGACY!, and our financial educational web platform, which ensures Black and Brown people are represented throughout the site and card game. We know that representation matters and that a welcoming space increases better outcomes.
Lastly, my company stands out because I am a black, lesbian, disabled woman, on a mission to close the racial wealth gap one youth and one family at a time. No titles will stop me, but every part of me inspires me to show up and ensure equity will be a part of the next generations to come.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Many people have helped me on this journey: from Dan and Renee Gallagher (they taught me about long-term investing) to James Oliver Jr., The ParentPreneur Foundation founder. Through a partnership with Wells Fargo and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, I was able to attend a 12-week mentorship program, Milestone Circles, that helped me learn about marketing, social media, and other problem-solving strategies that helped me grow my business. Special thanks to Nicola Corzine and Brooke Palizi from the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center and Jenny Flores and Brittany Anthony from Wells Fargo.
But since I can only share a story for one of these amazing people, it would be Mike Weinbach, head of Wells Fargo Consumer Lending.
Mike was the biggest supporter of my Kickstarter Campaign. My company got off the ground from my Kickstarter. At that time, I did not know many people in the financial world. Still, I had access to emails, so I found executives at banks and financial institutions to email, and out of the hundreds of emails I sent, only one executive responded, and that was Mike.
He responded by being one of my supporters of the Kickstarter, and he played the game with his son and loved it. For him to answer an email and support the campaign of a stranger gave me hope and inspired me to keep pushing. 19 months into this startup journey, I still email Mike and ask questions, and he gives me insight and still responds to this day.
His support and encouragement have helped me keep pushing and ensure that our social good creates social impact. Thank you to everyone on this journey, especially Mike and my friends Renee and Dan Gallagher for teaching me about long-term investing.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of Resilience. How would you define Resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is getting up no matter how many times you get knocked down and getting better each time.
Traits of a resilient person are FAITH, HOPE, COURAGE, SELF-LOVE, SELF-WORTH, ENDLESS OPTIMISM, and JOY.
Courage is often linked to Resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to Resilience?
Courage is facing your fear and doing it anyway. Resilience is facing life’s most difficult circumstances and finding the inner strength to heal and thrive. It is a significant difference because you can have courage and not be resilient, but you cannot be resilient without having courage. With courage you are surviving; with resilience you are thriving.
When you think of Resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of Resilience, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and Oprah Winfrey come to mind. But, at the top of that list is Nelson Mandela. He was persecuted for fighting for equality and equity in South Africa. For his commitment to justice and freedom, he served 27 years in prison under very harsh conditions. He was taken away from his wife, kids, and community. At the age of 75 years old, he became president of South Africa and served the country for 6 years. The ability to be wrongfully imprisoned, stripped from fathering his children, and then flourishing as the country’s leader is one of the best thriving stories I know, only second to Jesus Christ.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
In high school, my guidance counselor told me I couldn’t graduate on time because I had too many missing credits. Instead of focusing on the problem, I began searching for the answers. The solution was to attend regular school and night school to get the credits I needed. One more problem, the rule was I could only attend night school two days a week and I found a way to attend four days a week. I went to regular school from 7 a.m. — 2:45 p.m. and night school from 5 p.m. — 9 p.m. Focusing on the solution helped me graduate on time and prove my guidance counselor wrong.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
My greatest setback was my traumatic brain injury in 2012. Not only did I suffer physically, emotionally, and spirituality but I was at my lowest point financially, on the verge of being homeless, and unable to pay for my medication or food. My life was very hard and it wasn’t a recession. Healing on every level of humanity is a traumatic experience filled with many lows. No matter how low my life became, I knew better days were ahead. Even though my career ended, I founded my own startup, Financial Joy School. Now, I am in a great place financially, and spiritually I am whole and healed. Today my life is peaceful, filled with my wife, kids, dog, and our startup.
How have you cultivated Resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Growing up, I experienced two major traumas that built my resilience foundation which is still holding me today. When I was a young girl I was molested by my adult cousin. That pain scared me and it also showed me that hard situations won’t kill me and I can still smile even in pain. Later in life, when I turned 14, my 16-year-old brother was murdered. This was tragic and deeply affected me, but I leaned on my mother (who was my rock) to help me process my grief and accept it. My brother would have been the first in our family to graduate high school on time. To pay it forward and honor him, I pushed myself to graduate high school on time, for my brother!
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Laughter: Laughing is good for the soul and laughter can help change your mood, energy and uplift your spirit.
- Grounding: You have to ground yourself, which means you have to find balance in any given difficult situation. The way I ground myself is take a walk, shut the whole world off and go to my room and be by myself. I will write. I will sing. I will pray.
- Eternal Optimism: You have to be optimistic no matter what you are facing, no matter how hard a situation may be and feel — you have to know better days are always ahead.
- Self-Love: You have to love yourself. When you love yourself, you will only expect and want the best for your life each and every time.
- Faith: You have to have faith in something — whether or not that’s yourself, the universe, God, Buddha; faith can guide you and give you strength.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement of love — if we had more love in this world, all our differences would be drowned out by the love around us. If people love themselves, they would naturally have a love for others. That would also solve so many world problems like immigration, war, and disparity/equality issues.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast with Oprah Winfrey — she was the first African American woman who I saw as dynamic, unapologetically herself, and inspirational; not to mention her ability to impact the world for the better. There’s not too many people like that and she continues to use her voice for the betterment of the world. As a black woman who was raised in the 80s, Oprah was and always will be my role model who provides me with an endless amount of hope and inspiration.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
- Home — LEGACY! Card Game (legacycardgame.com)
- Financial Joy School | Wealth Seminars | Stock Investing for Black Families
- Instagram: FinancialJoySchool
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!