Is there a professional community out there that's right for you? How can you make the most of it? If not, what if you were to create your own community? In this episode, Jackie and I swap stories about the challenges and opportunities of community building.
Jackie is an award winning certified financial planner, best-selling author, and featured speaker who has helped thousands of clients grow their net worth, build a fortress around their finances, and keep more of their cash in their pocket for 25 years and counting! Her focus is on empowering women towards financial independence.
Jackie has been featured on the star, CBC, the agenda with Steve Paikin, BBN, Global news and is also a regular contributor to investment executive, wealth professional, and the globe and mail. As Mackenzie female trailblazer of the year for 2019 and 2021, she also recently won the Canadian advisor of the year at the 2023 Wealth professional awards making her a 3-time winner. Jackie is a leading money expert and a powerful voice in the world of women's financial empowerment.
You're listening to Get in the Driver’s Seat! We’re telling stories about leadership moments in small to mid-sized professional practices. I’m your host, Sandra Bekhor, Practice Management Coach for lawyers, architects, consultants and other professionals at Bekhor Management.
Hello and welcome to the podcast! This is 'Get in the driver's seat'. We're telling stories about leadership moments in small to mid-sized professional practices. I'm your host, Sandra Bekhor, Practice Management Coach at Bekhor Management. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Jackie Porter, an award-winning CFP, co-author of Single by choice or chance and one of the most recognized financial planners in Canada. Welcome Jackie!
So great to be here.
So a little background for our listeners. Jackie and I met back in 2016. We started out as LinkedIn friends and very quickly became actual friends and natural allies. So I remember even way back then, Jackie, you were already playing a leadership role at your firm, Team Jackie Porter, at the Ontario Bar Association and at Powerful women today, where I saw you speak. You were building a community before marketers were using that term.
I didn't realize that was a thing then.
Actually, you're one of the ones who started it as a thing. Since I too have experience in this area, not just as leader but you know also as a participant and as a coach, for clients that are building communities, I figured we could swap stories about the challenges and the opportunities of community building.
I'm happy to. This sounds like it'll be a fun discussion.
Exactly. Okay so before digging into the stories, I just wanted to get the language right, you know the idea of community versus network. What are your thoughts about that? What's the real distinction between the two?
Oh that's such a great question. I think the big difference is - with community, the people that you're working with, the people that you're building with, share the same values.
That's where I landed. I really thought about this you know and that's exactly where I landed. Please tell me more about that.
I think about the organizations I've been involved with, things I'm really passionate about, we were all getting excited about the same vision. We had the same values. For example, I think about even an organization like some of the community organizations I've worked with, some of the organizations the Ontario Bar Association, Women's Law. I was so excited to be around these badass women who wanted to make an impact in the field of law. I felt the same way about finance and I just love seeing women just sort of step into their power. I love women who celebrate other women. So we share so many similar values. So it's so fun. I've made so many great friends, had so many great relationships come out of working with Women's Law and you know I'm just grateful. I think when you're in a scenario where you're kind of in the same bus as people wanting to go in the same direction, you can just go that much further.
I so agree with you. You know one of the recent really positive experiences I've had in a community, I don't know if I mentioned this to you but I'm an Entrepreneur in Residence at York University's accelerator program.
I did not know that. That's exciting too.
It's really exciting. I've been doing this for a few years and, basically, it means that you coach the participants in the accelerator program. It's called YSpace and within it they have a small program dedicated to women-led businesses called Ella. That's the group that I'm a mentor in. But the whole thing, YSpace, they treat it as a community. They throw events and they have a newsletter. Really what they're doing is pumping up their community. They will be happy to share news about any of their members, any of their leaders. They tell you tell us if you have something going on. We're going to promote you.
That's what it's all about. Like as you were saying that, I was thinking about some of the amazing legal professionals I've met at Women's Law and you know we celebrate each other. Like one of the members, Patty, she just retired. So you know, a couple of the other lawyers and I said we're going to take her out. We want to like celebrate her and all the contributions that she's made because she's done so much for Women's Law. So we want to celebrate her. Or you know there are other members in that organization where we just want to create these mentor relationships. So we're like, these two ladies need to get to know each other. They're doing really similar things. Let's put them together so there's an opportunity for them to learn from each other, maybe create more of an impact. Because we're all on that path of how can we help make more of an impact in our respective fields. So you know that kind of stuff gets me enthused just because I can really rise to the occasion when I see powerful women wanting to make an impact. I want to support that. I want to share that. I want to tell as many people as I can and promote that. Because it's a great vision.
I know you Jackie. This is so sincere on your part. You know to prepare for today's podcast, I went through our old messages, our old email. All the way back to 2016.
Oh my gosh, I feel so old now. No wonder I'm covering my gray hair with blonde.
Right. All the way back then, even in the early days, you were introducing me to people and I was introducing you to people.
Yeah that's what it's all about. Because you know the reality is I feel like when you're on a mission for something and you see somebody's vision so clearly and again it's because we share the same values, right? So it's like you need to meet this person or you need to meet that person because that's going to put you further ahead. If you're in a community where people share that same dream of let's make more of an impact then it's easy. It's easy to be a cheerleader for them you know what I mean? It's easy to because your vision is kind of my vision right? So how can we make that bigger? We're gonna obviously need to work together and support each other if we're going to make that bigger.
I agree and it's such a lovely attitude and I think it's contagious.
It is. I think that's the other thing right? And you know there's needs to be a safe space for women to be where they can support each other. It's not always everywhere. I think in particular in spaces where there might feel like there's only so many women that can be powerful. Do you know what I mean? So I think that's one of the things that women in these communities share. We don't believe in scarcity. There can be many women doing great things. Let's actually change the narrative. Let's push that narrative and let's do everything we can to promote that.
I agree Jackie. I think that what I've observed in communities that really thrive is it's not really about the leaders, it's about the members. They develop relationships with each other. Every one of them stands out because they show up.
Yeah it's it actually all about showing up. It's all about communities recognizing that the whole is greater than the parts. So like the beauty is seeing the dots connected and seeing whatever your shared vision is get bigger and bigger.
Great. So that's a good place for us to jump into stories. I think that some of our listeners might be thinking well maybe I want to start a community you know. There's a full spectrum of formal to you know informal community building right? You could have a membership site, you could have a paid membership site or you know like I consider my LinkedIn connections to be my community. There's sort of a certain vibe to it. So there may be people listening to this who are thinking they would like to do this somewhere along that spectrum. But they fear that it will take a lot of their time and then it may not even work. So can you share some stories about what engages your audience and what doesn't? Were there any surprises?
what engages my audience? You mean the communities that I'm a part of?
Yeah either a community that you built or a community that you're a participant in. Like you know when you notice this really sticks. People are engaged. They're in conversation. They go to these events.
Yeah 100%. I'll share a couple of stories. The first one, I think it's important when you go into these spaces. So I'm thinking of live events right? So you're going to these events and they're with people that you want to get to know more. There are communities that you want to be more involved in. Then get involved. Don't be a spectator right? If you're there and you didn't talk to anyone, you didn't have even three authentic conversations, I think I always think three is a good number. Talk to three people there. Try to make genuine connections. If you're talking to someone and you're like I don't think this person shares the same values as me, this isn't the person to hand your card to and say call me because there's not really been any actual connection made. So go into an event with the intention of genuinely meeting three people. Look into their eyes, ask questions, be engaged. That's really the way to make someone want to get to know you. I'll share my story. I think of a couple of scenarios. One where I was someone who wanted to be in the community of older women. I grew up without parents. My mother passed away when I was quite young. So I was always seeking out communities where I could be mentored by women who were where I wanted to be. So one of these places I got involved in was a senior's organization. I thought I was going there to just you know meet women that I could learn from which was great. I also became very fired up about senior's issues. I'm in that stage of my life where I'm thinking about the next thing that's going on and because of all of these connections I have I'm able to think about housing and what it could really look like. I've had so many great conversations with women like in their 90s doing amazing things for you know women living together and like looking at alternative ways to live together as a senior. So I mean I've learned so much about what my life could look like down in the future that if I didn't open up myself to that opportunity I would never have that experience. I also got a chance to meet my co-author of Single by choice or chance. She's a woman who is living her best life in her 80s and shows me what my life could look like in my 80s if I choose. So it was really just going there, you know talking to her, meeting other women that I genuinely connected with and you know next thing I know I'm being mentored, pushed, to write a book with her. So that's kind of how that happened. We just kept meeting at these seniors events and she was like now she's a young person to be at a senior's event. I'm curious to get to meet her. She loves hanging out with young people and so you know I think when you just show up, you're genuinely curious about people, you have really authentic conversations. I was asking her questions about what her life was like as a senior that I really wanted answers to. I think those things sparked a genuine connection. Then we realized we had a similar vision. At that time I was single. If I'm on my own as a single person, I want my life to look similar to hers right? So that's how the book Single by choice or chance was actually born. She was somebody who was further down in her life and thought about what living on our own single by choice would be like as a senior. I was somebody who was much younger at the time, getting older but was much younger at the time. I was like these are the things I really think about deeply is finances and being single. She's like, I'm thinking about care and lifestyle and being single. We decided we would combine together and do this book. This all just came out of me looking for mentors as a person who didn't have you know my mother in my life and building these amazing relationships like my mentor, like my co-author.
Wow, it's amazing because that's such a foundational element in your story. Writing this book was like a big building block for you. For those on YouTube, here it is. I think that from your story what you're saying is you followed your muse.
Yes I felt like you know I want to meet women living their best lives. I want to have a vision for what my life would be like at different stages in my life because I didn't have you know a a parent like a mom to see what it could look like. I was you know really blessed with seeking out mentors with the ability to make connections and seek out mentors that could give me that help. I'm grateful but I also recognize I put in the work. Sometimes it was making telephone calls to people, showing up at events, sometimes it's also like you talked about going on LinkedIn and a woman that I admire reaching out to them and saying gee I really admire you and would love to know more. Let's have a coffee or online you know these days because of Covid people were doing coffee chats online. But I think that's a really great outlet now. You just have to choose. Think about what you value. Think about what's important to you to determine the type of communities you want to be part of right? Then think about how you can add value to those communities.
Those are all helpful tips whether you're a participant or a leader. Either way you need to do that work and do that sort of showing up like make the effort the way you said Jackie.
Yeah show up. But have fun. That's why it's important to figure out what do you value. What would you value if you were going to be a part of a community? What kind of communities do you want to be in? What's important to you so that you're in a room where you can actually have fun and make genuine connections with people because I recognize not everybody's an outgoing personality right? Like I'm a extrovert. But not everybody is right? So you really want to be in rooms... especially I'm speaking to those introverts out there right who may not find it as easy to get into a room talk to people. Then you genuinely have to want to be there. You genuinely want to be in that room or genuinely want to meet that person online or whoever the case is. But you have to be an agent in your own life right? You have to be that person being the director of the life that you want to create for yourself.
Yeah I agree. You're speaking to one of the introverts right now.
I know I was waiting for you to call yourself out. Otherwise I was gonna call you out, Sandra, so you know.
See the way we're engaging here by the way is part of building community. So find the thing that works for you. I mean for me doing this podcast... I woke up one morning at the beginning of this year and I'm like I feel like doing a podcast and here I am eight episodes in and we're doing a podcast. This is my comfort zone. I like having these deep openhearted conversations that are about business but they really go way beyond business. Because as small to mid-sized business owners, our business is part of who we are.
Agree. It's your brand right? Like I think that people forget, you kind of have to think of all of us are brands and what is a brand? It's looking at who we are, what we value, what we care about, what we stand for. So what do you stand for, who are you, what do you care about? That's what you're putting out into the world every single day and that's what people remember at the end of the day. If you go somewhere or even online and you're just there and you don't show up you don't have a message, people don't know what you stand for. Then it's kind of like doing the same thing at a party and like was Sandra there? Did anybody see Sandra? Was she there? You do need to leave people with an impression of who you are. That is your brand right?
I got that from you right from the beginning you know. You were very purpose driven and I feel like all these years later the purpose hasn't changed. You know all the things you've done have grown exponentially almost, but the purpose is the same. I'll tell you what I see.
Please do I'm very curious.
You can tell me if I'm right. You know just helping women to have that financial literacy and not to be overwhelmed or scared of even entering into that space, to own their own financial goals and what you know what they're going to make of their life without feeling dependent.
100% that's that is still the same. It's like how do I make financial literacy /financial conversations accessible to women and humanize the whole financial planning process for everyone. Because I think everyone would benefit from you know a better bedside manner from people who call themselves financial planners. People lives are... obviously finance is a huge part of it but it's not the only thing. It's speaking to people in a way that respects the fact that finance is a part of the conversation. But people want to talk about their goals overall, what they care about, what they stand for and then have that reflect the financial decisions that they make.
Yeah and so all of what we're talking about here, I see you use it not just as a participant, I see you use it as a leader. You know those LinkedIn lives that you're doing.
Do you have fun with those? Do you like that?
They're great. You're not just doing this thing that we're talking about the purpose helping people, you really are doing that helping people you know to feel comfortable even having the conversation and growing their skills in this area where they may be very uncomfortable, but you're doing it in a way that's full of personality. Like bringing in the music, the pop culture references and and just sort of an easy easy vibe to it. That's you leading your own community Jackie. I see it.
For me that's fun. Yeah I I love the fact that you say that because it's also creating the community you want to see out there. So that's what you do as a leader, you create the community you want to see. So if it's not yet there... The other thing is what do you stand for right? I came into an industry where there was none of this. I was a financial planner. I started in this industry in the early 90s the mid 90s. First of all there weren't very many people who looked like me in the financial planning space, never mind as a female person that looked like me in the planning space, never mind having conversations about life trying to figure out what you stand for, to figure out what type of value should we be looking at to determine what type of decisions, financial decisions, you need to make... Those conversations weren't happening. So I came into this industry really for myself Sandra, to learn as much as I could about finance for myself, because of my humble beginnings. My mom was a single mom. We didn't have money conversations at home, try having a financial conversation with an immigrant. Ask them about their money. See how that goes, not so great. So all of this to say, I was someone who was desperate to be financially secure. So when I heard about this industry and found out it could offer me that for myself, I wanted to know everything I could. So I came in in from a perspective of a journalist because my background is journalism and psychology. So I was like I need to learn everything I can so I can be okay. Then it only hit me when I wrote the book that there were so many women who felt the exact same way that I did. That truly I was an oddball in an industry that didn't look anything like what I looked like right, like someone who just wanted to be okay, wanted to have financial conversations, had a psychology background, understood how money affects so many areas of psychology right, how people think and feel and value... So I didn't realize at the time that's what made me an oddball but at some point I recognized especially after writing the book that it was something that resonated with people. so as I went and spoke about you know Single by choice or chance and my passion around women, really the community started to be built for me. Because so many women and people came up to me and said this resonates with me and shared their stories with me and helped me see that there was a whole community of people who felt exactly the way that I did. That you know having that sense of being an oddball going to conferences so in a completely different community of people that did not look like me who did not share the same values, that there was actually a space for someone that was like me out there, that people received it and wanted it... It was very very affirming for me. It's actually making me a little emotional because it was something that was so affirming.
That's so beautiful. I'm feeling the emotion of it too. Oh Jackie. I think one of the things I really admire about you, first of all in this story you're sharing, I just want to acknowledge the courage. Because when people don't look like, and this comes up in my meetings with clients, when people don't look like you out there it can feel like you can't do something, like it's not an option. I talked about this on a previous podcast and one of the women she said well you know what it means to be a trailblazer? It means no one did it before.
That's right. Correct. So it's crazy to me that I won Trailblazer of the Year twice. It's hilarious to me because it's like celebrating the fact that I was such an oddball in the industry for so many years and now I'm being celebrated for it. It's so hilarious to me right?
Because it's very courageous to face that road when you you feel like you don't look like the other people who are on that stage, whatever they're doing.
Yeah so you know as I said, it was it was very affirming to start exposing that to other people, so talking about my story, you know the book, talking to people about you know being raised by a single mom, wanting to be financially okay and really feeling the privilege of helping women who also may not have come to the conversation that naturally, wanting to learn about money, wanting to be okay. There's so many women who've done so well for themselves who still feel like that person who doesn't understand money wants to feel like they're going to be okay, wants to feel like they're a boss in that area. I'm very privileged to support and privileged to really help them towards their own path to feeling that financial confidence. I feel very blessed to have that role and as I said I'm blessed because I didn't know there was a whole community of people who felt the way I did and who wanted the same kind of humanistic approach to finance, who wanted someone who'd make financial conversations accessible. I didn't think that was a thing, that Community. I co-created it with the people who were looking for the same thing. I was able to stumble upon these people who had the same values that I but we didn't know it.
No, you created something from nothing. I think that this conversation is about community but really what we're talking about here is leadership. That leadership, it doesn't matter if you're a participant or you're creating the community, it's still leadership. The ideas that we're talking about here, this is authenticity. People throw around the word authenticity. This right here, this is authentic, when you show up as your raw self and you connect with people based on what you really feel and what you really believe even if it's scary, even if it feels like you know you don't necessarily have a footing and you're not sure if this is going to work and you do it anyway because that's who you really are and it's what you really believe and you don't want to let go of it. That's authenticity.
Yeah, I mean who thought even five years ago, you could bring your whole self to a financial conversation? But that's what people appreciate about conversations that we have is that they can bring their whole self.
Yeah so when you're authentic, it gives the other person permission to be authentic. I have to say this conversation is reminding me of some of my experiences in the communities I'm in, not business, actually including business. So I was getting ready for this podcast. I was thinking which communities am I in and I'm realizing oh my G-d I'm in so many. I'm really engaged with them. I have my coaching groups. I have mindfulness and meditation groups, yoga groups, art groups. After looking for communities that felt like home, I found some that are amazing. I have a couple of art groups that I'm in, these are private Facebook groups or membership groups that you know they're only around for a limited time. They're so active that when you post something, right after you post it, it's no longer at the top. You have to scroll to find your post, like a minute after you posted it.
That's what a highly engaged community looks like.
Really if you look back at those groups and try and understand why are they so successful, it's because the leaders are doing exactly what you just described, Jackie. They're doing this all of it's on the table. They're so putting themselves out there to the point that they're truly vulnerable and okay with that you know. Like successful artists who talk about well you know here are my bad paintings. Want to watch me paint something awful? They're not inhibited or filtering anything. They're not trying to present their best self. They're trying to connect with you and show you their experience is the same as yours.
Yeah that to me creates also a trust, a real trust with people, when you're your authentic self, not the person that's throwing the word authenticity around but when you're just yourself. People feel that. They sense that.
Yeah it's amazing to be in there as a participant.
Yeah so that's kind of one of the reasons I call myself a confidant. Because trust is being authentic with you and you feeling like that gut check that okay I'm in a safe space. But it's also you know that sense that okay I can feel confidence as well because you've also created that brand, that community, that says you're someone that can be trusted. So you know you're in circles that show that you can be trusted. So that's kind of again going back to what does your brand say about you? What does it stand for?
I agree and I love that term I'm glad you brought it up. It's really a great title that you're using, Financial Confidant.
Yeah, it's about that right? It's creating a community where people can feel confident, but they also can feel the trust that comes from being able to just be completely 100%. They can bring their whole self. They can they can feel safe being their whole self and they know that you're being your whole self, you're being authentic to them and you're also somebody who stands for something and they understand because they're a part of that trusted community. They understand what you stand for.
Yeah and you know the truth is that we're talking about you know the connection that happens between people. But I've actually been part of the evolution that happens being part of these communities. You really do grow and you see people grow. The relationships that form are real relationships. They go beyond the community. They actually go on to thrive, some of them right? Have you seen that?
100% I think that you're describing what happens in communities where people are on that same track. They believe in the community. They're supportive. They're engaged. I think that cultivates people growing and learning. Because I learned something, I'm sharing it. I'm being my whole self, so I'm sharing what I've learned. It's kind of like what you were just describing, which is why that feed keeps growing bigger. I'm sharing this so people are engaged. I'm learning this and this and look what about this... I'm sharing this, somebody takes that information. They might even turn around and say you know I'm gonna share this is what I've learned from what Sandra's provided here... People keep learning and they just keep growing and magnifying. It's an amazing thing when there are organic communities, authentic communities thriving in this way.
Yeah and so if anybody out there listening to this is you know wondering about starting a community and you feel kind of the itch to do it, but you're not sure... Well this idea that we're talking about here is really about coming up with a concept that isn't about you. It's about giving a membership to your audience that's going to turn it into something about them. That's what works.
Yeah, you don't even always know how it's going to turn out. Like when I did this I had no idea that the affirmation I was going to get was pushing me in this direction. So I've grown. Where I've started out, the community that I serve has pushed me to continue to be my authentic self. Look at you know what are other places in the whole industry I can humanize. When I started even the LinkedIn Lives, I never did music. But here we were in a pandemic and I was thinking about how to uplift people more and how to help engage them more. I was like you know music uplifts me more and engages me more. Now I have people who said to me I wonder what song you're gonna do. That wasn't my original vision when I started out. But the community you work with will help you to grow. It'll help you to continue to figure out ways to continue to engage them. That ends up helping you become you know that leader that the community needs you to be.
Yeah I agree. You're doing some really fun stuff there. If anybody listening to this hasn't checked out Jackie's LinkedIn Lives (and I know you're posting them on your other socials too), do. They're not only informative. They're entertaining.
Yeah, LinkedIn live at 5. Feel free to come jam with me. I don't even know what song I'm playing tomorrow.
Okay any final thoughts Jackie for anyone considering building a community?
Yeah I think you know if you're still struggling to figure out what your brand is, you know what communities... Just I'd say look at some resources. Sandra, you have some amazing resources around. You know take some quizzes. Just try to learn a little bit more about yourself I think. Ask other people as well. Ask some trusted people around you. Who are your trusted confidants to say, hey I'm thinking about getting involved in some communities, what are some great communities that I should be looking at? Also think about like the gifts that you have. Everybody has unique gifts they bring to the universe. I'm a huge cheerleader. I love cheering women on. Communities where I can like bring women together and bring people together, that's something I'm super passionate about. What are you passionate about? Let that drive the communities that you want to be a part of.
That's great and it is about following your muse which is where we started. I would add to that just you know think about it like dating as opposed to getting married. So go check out a whole bunch of them. You don't have to commit. As you check different things out, you will inevitably do what Jackie is talking about, which is learning about yourself. You will learn what types of environments make you feel comfortable and at home. You will start making some real connections with people and they will just naturally become the right communities for you to focus on.
100% I think that's what's so beautiful. The more you sort of get out there, get some experience in checking out different communities, the more you'll also develop those skills that we're talking about. So if you want to be a leader or a participant, these are contact sports. You can't do them theoretically. These are contact sports that you have to get involved in. So get involved. I think that's the message I want to leave people with. Don't just sit there. I know we've done a lot of sitting during the pandemic. Get out there and get involved. Figure out where your next opportunity to be a part of a community is gonna come from.
I love that. It's a called a contact sport. But you can do it in a way that's comfortable for you. Look at me, introvert hello. One on one conversations work for me.
Exactly. Well get involved however. It could be online, sending those LinkedIn messages... It could be going into you know different networking events... But just get involved.
Make real deep connections. Like this one.
A lifelong connection. I'm sure
Great okay wonderful. Thank you Jackie for your time and for your insights.
It was such a pleasure to be here Sandra, anytime.
Okay great. I may take you up on that. To our listeners, if you are interested in learning more about Jackie Porter, she is a Certified Financial Planner, Writer, and Speaker. Please go to askjackie.ca. You've been listening to Get in the Driver's Seat, stories about leadership moments in small to mid-sized professional practices. I'm your host Sandra Bekhor, Practice Management Coach at Bekhor Management. Take care everybody.