For those of you who read From Wall Street with Love, my life as a crazed financial services executive during the height of the financial crisis was laid bare. Having left that world and promising to never subject myself to that level of stress again, I now find myself surprised that “stress” is not exclusive to the corporate world. I have landed in a new role – as an Executive Director for a Financial Empowerment non-profit organization. And, having been there for a few weeks now, I have found that working for the betterment of mankind has its own stressors… imagine having to raise $1 million a year! Yes, it’s much harder than it sounds, as I am learning day by day.
Nevertheless, I am thrilled that in my new role, I have managed to keep myself attached to financial literacy. But I now find myself working on that issue from a decidedly different angle – a philanthropic one. No more interactions with hedge fund managers or discussions about complex derivatives! Instead, my conversations revolve around getting the ‘unbanked‘ banked and avoiding payday lenders.
I must confess that from time to time I do miss the corporate perks that I so easily got used to (until they were ripped away in the frantic cost-cutting and employee-shedding prompted by the financial crisis). As a financial educator, one of my most often repeated pieces of advice to those trying to reduce their spending was “it is much easier to increase your lifestyle than to shrink it.” Ironically, I am now reminded daily of this sentiment as I take the bus instead of the train and the train instead of the plane. Valets and model-hot doormen at the W hotel are no longer fixtures at the hotels where I now stay. In my new reality, I consider myself lucky if my hotel has a self-serve refrigerator with frozen dinners in the lobby. It can be humbling at times, but I am living what I preach.
At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that I enjoy what I’m doing (I really do) and that my blood pressure is no longer in the danger zone. Writing From Wall Street with Love helped me cope with the insanity on Wall Street. Chronicling my current adventures will hopefully be just as entertaining for you. So, stay tuned for equally neurotic characters, absurd situations and the general upheaval that seems to follow Leigh (me)… wherever she may be.
— Love, Leigh