Make Money Your Thing. An Interview With Kalee Boisvert

Make Money Your Thing. An Interview With Kalee Boisvert

Kalee Boisvert has been in the financial industry for over 15 years, but her love of money started very young. Growing up in a single-parent household, she watched her mom struggle with finances and wished there was something she could do to help. Around this time, she realized she needed to find her own way to save and earn if she wasn’t going to allow her circumstances to define her. And so, her own journey to financial literacy began.

Today, as a single mom and financially independent woman, Kalee is called to support women in their financial lives. She felt the pull toward a career that would allow her to pursue this deeply personal goal to advocate for women and their money, which led her on the path to becoming a financial advisor. Being an advisor allows her to work directly with women to empower and support them and help put an end to any money-related stress and doubts.  

To further her efforts supporting financial literacy, Kalee has two books being released in 2023 – a children’s picture book called MoneyWise Mabel’s Bursting Bank, and a non-fiction book called Make Money Your Thing! Which aims to build confidence and empower people in their financial lives.  

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your story?

I didn’t grow up with the money. Being poor was a pervasive theme in my childhood. I also recognized early on that not everyone seemed to be plagued by the same lack and money scarcity that my Mom, sister and I endured. These glimpses of wealth brought me hope. And with that, from a very early age, I set out on my mission to make my own money to achieve my goals.

Each target I hit built up my confidence and belief in myself that anything was possible. It started at age eight with a Super Nintendo and a pet dog, and then as I got older the financial goals progressively got bigger, including a post-secondary degree, my first condo, an MBA, my first starter home, then a bigger home for my two kiddos and me, and now accumulating wealth for my financial freedom. It turned out that the circumstances that characterized my childhood didn’t define who I was at my core or what I could have achieved. I decided early on that I could be the master of my money story. And as the master I would go after exactly what I wanted. Money was on my side, it was my ally.

As someone who started from scratch, I knew that if I was able to succeed with money, then it was possible for everyone. And that fueled my drive to share the money confidence I developed with other women. If I could support other women to believe in themselves and what they were capable of in their financial lives then perhaps no more women would have to go through the stress and struggles that my Mom endured. And that is when I chose to become a wealth advisor, to empower women to build money confidence, too. From there I knew I wanted to reach an even larger audience of women to support them in their relationship with money and that is what inspired me to write my new book Make Money Your Thing! Which was just released on July 11. This book is all about giving women a confidence boost in their financial lives so they feel ready to take action with their money. When money is your “thing” you can feel completely at ease about making it work for you – and feel confident that your financial goals and dreams are all very possible. 

How did you market your business when it was brand new?

The financial industry has traditionally been male-dominated, making it less welcoming for women. Recognizing this disparity, I was inspired to create a space that embraced and empowered women with their finances. To achieve this, I decided to host monthly women-only lunches and learn sessions on various financial topics right from the boardroom of my office.

To spread the word about these events, I reached out to other companies in my office building and neighboring buildings. Through cold-calling, I personally invited their female team members to attend my women-only seminars. I can vividly recall the nerves and excitement before the first event, which covered Investing 101. I worried about the attendance, fearing an empty room with an abundance of sandwiches and salads.

But as the clock neared noon, my worries were replaced with joy as women started pouring out of elevators onto the 41st floor. Seeing them approach the front desk, mentioning they were there for the investing session, filled me with giddiness. Inside, I wanted to jump up and down and celebrate the success, but I maintained a cool and professional demeanor.

Presenting in front of that room full of women felt surreal, as adrenaline-fueled my every word. The experience was exhilarating, and the impact was evident when the session ended. Women approached me, expressing excitement to discuss stocks with their partners, feeling more confident than ever. Others thanked me for presenting complex concepts in a digestible manner.

Their enthusiasm confirmed my hopes for these events – I wanted women to feel empowered and not intimidated about managing their finances. It was a turning point; women were growing more confident about their money matters. From that moment on, I hosted many more successful women-only lunches and learns in that very same boardroom.

We all face challenges, but looking back, what have been some of the biggest challenges and pitfalls you’ve had to navigate?

Starting a business and managing the financial stress it brings has been one of the most significant challenges I’ve navigated. At the time I decided to embark on this journey, I was a single mom to my one-year-old daughter, Ivy, and simultaneously pursued my MBA. It was undoubtedly a lot on my plate. The uncertainty surrounding finances when starting a business can be quite intimidating.

During those initial stages, I didn’t have any clients, which meant no revenue coming in. I knew that this situation wasn’t sustainable if I wanted to provide for myself and Ivy, so failure simply wasn’t an option. I needed to grow my business rapidly to cover the bills. Fortunately, my MBA studies turned out to be a blessing, as I could access student loans to help bridge the funding gap and cover necessary expenses. Dealing with financial uncertainty while also being responsible for a little one added even more pressure.

The reality is that this part of the entrepreneurial journey isn’t always glamorous. Many of us don’t talk about living off loans and struggling to make ends meet. But it’s a common challenge faced by numerous entrepreneurs when they take that leap into building their businesses. I like to share this reality because I know there are others starting their journey who may feel disheartened if they haven’t achieved significant financial success in their first year.

Remember, success in entrepreneurship doesn’t always happen overnight. It can take time, and there might be moments when you question your decisions or face setbacks. But from my experience, these challenges and experiences shape us and pave the way for growth and accomplishment. Stay resilient, and you’ll find your path to success, even if it takes a little longer than expected.

What are the three most important habits to be a successful entrepreneur?

Here are the three key habits that I believe play a significant role in being a successful entrepreneur:

Cultivate unshakeable self-belief: As an entrepreneur, facing rejection and challenges is inevitable. During the early years of building my business, I encountered countless hurdles and sometimes felt overwhelmed with hurt feelings (I’m very sensitive). What helped me push through those tough days was my unwavering belief in myself. Growing up witnessing the determination of my single mom, who took on numerous roles, instilled in me the conviction that I, too, was capable of anything. Betting on myself and acknowledging that I could conquer difficult tasks became my mantra. Embracing this self-belief empowered me to take on any challenge and never back down. 

Embrace discomfort for growth: Fear and discomfort are companions on the entrepreneurial journey. From day one, and even as an established business owner today, I face moments of trepidation. As an introvert, many aspects of starting my own business felt awkward and uncomfortable. Whether it was reaching out to strangers to build new connections or sharing vulnerable stories from my childhood in my book, embracing discomfort became a transformative experience. I learned to view discomfort as a stepping stone to growth. Trying new things, venturing into uncharted territories, and stretching my limits propelled me forward. The realization that personal and business growth blossoms from these uncomfortable moments has reshaped my perspective.

Foster a curious and open mindset: Entrepreneurship is a lifelong learning journey. There are multifaceted aspects to building a business, such as marketing, social media management, time allocation, and financial acumen. Moreover, this journey offers profound insights into oneself and the people with whom we interact. Staying curious and open to learning has been a guiding principle for me. The thirst for knowledge allows me to continuously expand my skills and understanding, both in business and in life.

As an entrepreneur, practicing these habits has been integral to my success. Nurturing self-belief, embracing discomfort, and fostering a curious mindset have been the cornerstones of my growth and development. Embracing these habits can lead to remarkable achievements, empowering us to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come our way.

How do you boost your self-esteem in moments of doubt?

Boosting my self-esteem during moments of doubt is essential for me, and I achieve it through uplifting pep talks. For example, when faced with the opportunity to present in front of a room full of people, I often experience anxiety and fear leading up to the event. To counter these emotions and ensure I show up as my best self, I engage in genuine self-reflection. I remind myself, “Hey Kalee, a majority of the population feels nervous about presenting, so it’s entirely okay to feel this way. In fact, it’s normal.”

These pep talks and gentle self-reminders act as powerful motivators when doubts start creeping in. Doubt often stems from negative self-talk, but I’ve learned that I have the power to be kind to myself during these moments. It’s crucial to treat ourselves as we would treat a best friend or our own child when they’re experiencing self-doubt. Providing ourselves with words of encouragement and support can be truly transformative.

Amidst all the challenges and self-doubt, it’s easy to overlook our accomplishments and the amazing things we’re achieving. So, I make sure to credit myself and acknowledge all the positive efforts I’m making. Practicing kindness and self-appreciation helps in building a strong foundation of self-esteem, empowering me to tackle doubts with renewed confidence.

What advice would you give to a new business owner?

My advice to new business owners is always to come back and revisit your why. Undoubtedly, there is a profound reason that led you to embark on your entrepreneurial journey. As you build and grow your business, you’ll encounter various challenges and receive feedback from others, both solicited and unsolicited. And, you’ll likely adapt and evolve to meet the needs of your clients and customers as you gain more experience. Amidst these changes and adjustments, it’s crucial never to lose sight of your “why” – the driving force behind your business.

Taking the time to reconnect with your why serves as a powerful reminder of the core mission you set out to achieve. Your why embodies the passion and purpose that fuels your business endeavors, making it a vital anchor in your journey. From my own experience, I’ve noticed that new business owners possess something deep inside them that drives them to take the plunge and pursue their dreams, to engage in work that feels truly meaningful and purposeful. Revisiting your why brings you back to that essence and keeps you aligned with your original aspirations. By holding onto your why, you stay motivated, focused, and connected to the deeper meaning of your business.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment and why?

Writing my book, Make Money Your Thing!, is one of my biggest accomplishments, and it holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. Firstly, it fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to become a published author. I poured my heart into crafting a proposal and writing a few chapters for the book, which I then courageously sent to agents and publishers in the hopes of securing an offer. Despite facing numerous rejections, I remained resilient and determined to see my dream come to fruition.

Refusing to give up, I decided to enter the book into a Canada-wide writing contest. The effort paid off, as my book earned a position as a finalist and caught the attention of a new publisher in Canada, one that turned out to be the perfect fit for my work! This achievement filled me with immense pride, knowing that my perseverance and hard work had paid off.

The journey of writing the book was not without its challenges. I am especially proud that I managed to write a significant portion of it while pregnant. Even after my son was born, I continued to push forward, dedicating myself to completing the necessary edits.

And just last week, I experienced a truly touching moment when I took my nine-year-old daughter to a bookstore and proudly showed her my book displayed on the shelves. It was a reminder of my own past and the challenging relationship I had with money while witnessing the stress it caused my mother. Now, standing in that bookstore with my daughter, I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement and joy as I presented her with the very book I had written about money, turning my journey into a positive and empowering one for her and for others who may read it.

What initiatives or actions do you believe are crucial for fostering a more supportive and inclusive business environment for women?

Fostering a more supportive and inclusive business environment for women is essential to create opportunities for success and growth. As a business owner who deeply values diversity and inclusivity, there are several initiatives and actions I believe are crucial for achieving this:

  1. Establish Mentorship Programs: Set up mentorship programs that pair experienced leaders, regardless of gender, with aspiring female talent. Mentorship offers guidance, support, and valuable networking opportunities, allowing women to gain insights into navigating the business landscape and building confidence in their abilities.
  2. Encourage Open Communication: Create a culture that encourages open communication and transparency. This environment allows women to voice their ideas, concerns, and aspirations without fear of judgment or bias. Emphasize the importance of diverse perspectives and actively listen to the input of all team members. Including the quiet ones like me! 
  3. Flexible Work Arrangements: Recognize the diverse needs and responsibilities women may have outside of work. Implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, flexible hours, or job-sharing opportunities, to support a healthy work-life balance and retain talented female professionals.
  4. Combat Unconscious Bias: Educate all employees on unconscious bias and its potential impact on decision-making and interactions. By raising awareness and promoting a bias-free work environment, we can cultivate a workplace that values individual strengths and contributions regardless of gender.
  5. Celebrate Diversity and Achievements: Celebrate the achievements and contributions of women within the organization. Recognize their successes through awards, public acknowledgment, or other forms of appreciation, fostering a positive and supportive atmosphere.
  6. Engage in External Partnerships: Collaborate with external organizations that promote gender diversity and women’s empowerment. Participate in events, workshops, or initiatives focused on fostering an inclusive business ecosystem for women.

By actively implementing these initiatives and actions, we can create a more supportive and inclusive business environment where women can thrive, contribute their unique perspectives, and lead with confidence.

What challenges have you faced in the workplace, especially your experience in male-dominated environments?

I faced challenges right from the moment when I first expressed my ambition to become a financial advisor. A male colleague once told me that succeeding as an advisor in our city would be difficult for a woman, as most of the wealth was controlled by male oil and gas executives who would only want to work with male advisors. Rather than accepting this discouragement, I saw it as my cue to blaze my own trail and establish a female-focused wealth advisory business.

As I ventured into the industry, I encountered more resistance. During meetings with investment firm managers, who held significant influence in hiring decisions, I was met with skepticism about the viability of my business plan, which centered on supporting women. These experiences brought me significant pushback as I strived to break out on my own.

Instead of letting these challenges deter me, I used them as fuel to propel my determination and passion for creating a business that catered to the needs of women. The skepticism and biases only reinforced my belief in the importance of offering a supportive and inclusive space for women to thrive financially.

Overcoming these obstacles has been a powerful journey of empowerment and self-belief. Today, I am proud to have built a business that celebrates and uplifts women, helping them achieve their financial goals with confidence. It serves as a reminder that while there may be challenges in male-dominated environments, resilience and determination can lead to remarkable achievements.

I hope my experiences inspire other women to fearlessly pursue their dreams and challenge the status quo, proving that we can create spaces where women are celebrated and their success knows no bounds. Together, we can break barriers and pave the way for a more inclusive and supportive workplace for all women.

How do you set your business apart from others in your industry?

Setting my business apart from others in the industry is all about a laser focus on women. Right from the beginning, I make it clear that my business is dedicated to women, and I am their biggest cheerleader. It’s not just lip service – I back it up with initiatives specifically designed to build financial literacy for women. My book, “Make Money Your Thing!” also revolves around empowering women in the financial world.

My approach isn’t about excluding men. Instead, it’s about leaning heavily into supporting the needs of women, which have often been overlooked by the financial industry. This discrepancy bothers me, and I’m passionate about eradicating it as quickly as possible. I want women to feel like serious earners, and smart investors, and stand on equal footing with men in their financial lives.

By championing women and addressing the unique challenges they face, my business stands out from the crowd. I believe that when we empower women financially, we create a more equitable and prosperous future for everyone. My mission is to help women embrace their financial potential and feel confident in taking control of their financial destinies. Through this focus, I aim to make a significant impact and inspire positive change in the industry and the lives of women.

Want more inspiring interviews? Read about Angela Gargano’s Guide to Meaningful Entrepreneurship or our interview with CEO and Entrepreneur Jane Milovanova, part of our interview series spotlighting successful women in business.

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