We had the good fortune of connecting with Helen Ngo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helen, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
.I don’t believe in work life balance. I believe in prioritization.
Balancing my life sounds like I have to juggle multiple responsibilities at once. As if I have in one hand my work and in the other hand my personal life. I don’t juggle my responsibilities; I prioritize what needs to get done.
Each day is opened with answering the question:
“What’s the most important thing that needs to get done today that will get me closer to my goal?”
Work is not labor; I view work as the art I create in my life. As the main sculptor of my life, work is something I continuously design, shape, mold, and change so that at the end of my life, I am able to look back and proudly say “look at my life’s work. Isn’t it beautiful?”
In every role that I own today – entrepreneur, financial empowerment coach, wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, best friend – there’s work involved in every single one. The collection of all the work that I do in each of those roles is called my life.
My work of art as an entrepreneur is to create jobs and economic opportunities for minorities, and my priority as a financial empowerment coach is to help as many women as possible reach their highest earning potential to achieve total financial freedom. In order to do this, I’ve cultivated a team who carries this same mission in the core of their hearts as well.
Being a wife and mother is one of the most challenging work of my life. How do I continue to build a stronger bond and level of trust to have a joy filled marriage? How do I raise my son to be resilient, brave, and self-accountable? How do I model myself so that my son sees how a woman should be respected in the world? There are plenty of books and courses out there teaching us how to be a spouse and a parent, but at the end of the day, I have to write my own book on how to fulfill these roles so that at the end of my life I am proud of the journey I take with my husband and son.
Regarding being a daughter, sister, aunt, and best friend, it takes work too in sustaining and nurturing these relationships.
How I prioritize my work is based on new roles I take on and what I am trying to accomplish at that moment in time.
But as my roles have evolved over time, I’ve learned that the most important work that has to be prioritized is working on myself. If I don’t do the work to keep my mental and physical health sharp, I wouldn’t be able to fully do all the other work well. My businesses and relationships would fall apart if I don’t prioritize working on becoming a better me – a better human in this world we share.
So, the ultimate goal isn’t to have balance in my life. The ultimate goal is to have peace in my life, and the only way to achieve that is to prioritize and do the hard work.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When I was just 26 years old, I saw how underserved my demographic was in the wealth management industry, particularly minority women. So, I left my stable corporate job as a stockbroker and started my own firm – Capital Benchmark Partners – to provide investment management and financial planning to this demographic.
The wealth management industry is built to serve those who are already rich. I didn’t want to help the rich get richer. I wanted to help people – particularly minority, underrepresented women who have great earning potential in their careers but simply don’t yet have the tools, education, and personalized guidance to help them start accumulating wealth to become rich.
After working in the money industry for over 12 years helping hundreds of women hit major life milestones and become financially independent, what I’ve learned is that in order to tap into a higher level of earning power, spending power, and influencing power, you have to overcome any stigmas you have around money.
In our current society, many people associate money with greed, corruption, and abuse of power. So when an individual – particularly a woman – has goals of making more money for herself, it is deemed as selfish and greedy. Whereas with men, they are viewed as caring and working hard to support their families.
This has got to change.
And that is exactly why I started my second business and brand, Self-Made CEO®. It’s a platform where we are helping women overcome any negativity they have around finances and develop a growth-focused, resilient money mindset. Through our coaching programs and workshops, we give them the tools and lessons on how to leverage money in such a way to gain total financial freedom and build profitable businesses that contributes to the greater good of the communities they serve.
That may include creating jobs, funding charitable causes that are dear to our hearts, supporting our local businesses, and the “do good with money list” goes on and on.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There’s no better way to bond than trying out new restaurants, foods, and drinks together. I don’t have any friends who don’t love sharing an amazing meal, so I would take them to all my favorite food spots in Atlanta.
First, I would take my best friend to Buford Highway. We would have a different food theme each day. I would take her to my favorite Vietnamese spots such as Banh Mi Huy off Jimmy Carter and Pho Dai Loi #2. Then, I’d take her to the H-Mart plaza in Doraville and do “food hopping,” trying out different restaurants there. My favorite restaurants over in that plaza are Snackbox Bistro and Tea Top for dessert.
Because my friends and I love to cook too, I’d take them to the Buford Hwy Farmers market and the Dekalb Farmers Market. There’s so much variety of ethnic spices, vegetables, and fruit there; I’d take my best friend there to buy a bunch of ingredients and go home to cook a nice dinner.
With all the eating, we’d need to squeeze in a bit of exercising to burn off the extra calories. So, I’d take my friend hiking, and there’s no shortage of trails in and outside of Atlanta. My favorite spot in the city to hike is Cascade Springs Nature preserve. It has a lot of different trail options, each one with its own quirky statues and figurines for you to see along the path.
Finally, I’d close out the week with a wine tour in the north GA vineyards. One of my favorite spots is Montaluce Winery. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today if it weren’t for my mom and dad. They taught me everything I need to make it in life: honor, loyalty, sacrifice, resilience, hard work, and independence.
We immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when I was just three years old. They left the life they built in Vietnam – their language, jobs, and family – to move to a foreign country just so my siblings and I can have freedom and opportunity. It takes a lot of courage to sacrifice everything you’ve ever had just so your kids can have a greater shot in life.
When we moved to the U.S., we didn’t speak a lick of English and relied on food stamps to get us by the first several years. My dad secured a job at a print shop, while my mom worked at a nail salon and later opened up one of her own. They didn’t make a lot of money, yet were able to pay off their homes, put all three of us through college without incurring extra debt, and are now happily retired with six grandchildren. My siblings and I are all financially independent and have successful careers.
There was no way they could have achieved all of this had they not been brave enough to pack up their old life to build a better one here in the U.S. They banked on themselves and got a huge return.
Other: I am the host of the Live and Earn Podcast, where I interview women from all financial backgrounds to share their stories on how they’re making it in life. Check it out on my website: https://helenngo.com/podcast/