Tara Newman: Welcome to The Bold Money Revolution Podcast. This is your source for straight-talking, no fluff business, and high-performance conversations that add real depth and value to the way bold leaders live, work and thrive. I’m your host, Tara Newman. I’m here to show you how to optimize your performance as a leader so that you can grow a business that is profit-rich, efficient, and allows you to generate real tangible wealth for yourself and others. We are here to help you lead with your values, to perform without overwhelm and burnout, and to do your most important work in the world.
Hey, it’s Tara. I wanted to come in here and personally invite you to hop on a call with me, a free consultation call, where we can decide if the Bold Profit Academy is the right program for you right now. Here’s one of the ways that you’ll know that you need to hop on a call with me: We are focused on implementation. If you’re not getting things done in your business or you’re not focused on the right tasks, you’re not maximizing your time, then you are going to want to join the Bold Profit Academy because our core focus is implementation. We do that through giving you guides, worksheets, calculators, and frameworks that you can use in your business. We just went through our offer creation curriculum, we had a participant go through it, and she created a highly leveraged offer at a premium price. But the way we created the resources for her to do that allowed her to take everything that she put together and then write her sales page with ease. That is called implementation and that is called efficiency. Because we want you to have more profit while working less hours and using the simplest, most effective strategies to do that. If this sounds like something that you desire, that you’re struggling with and you need support with, I want you to book your call with me over at theboldleadershiprevolution.com/academy so I can help you decide if this is the right time for you to join us.
Hey, hey bold leaders. Welcome to another episode of The Bold Money Revolution Podcast. I am really grateful to be here today with Susanne Mariga. She is a peer of mine, a colleague from Profit First. We are both Profit First certified professionals. But Susanne is also the author of Profit First For Minority Business Enterprises and she is the Mariga CPA’s Chief Accountant & Chief Profit Advisor. She works with multiple six and seven-figure entrepreneurs and helps them achieve record-breaking financial independence. Now these entrepreneurs finish their journeys to discover new financial and time independence. Many have found that they have become the first millionaires in their family. She says, “MBEs (Minority Business Enterprises), you too, can experience the same results.” Now right before we even dive in, I want anybody who wants to buy this book who’s thinking about buying her book, you can pre-order it by going to profitfirstmbe.com. Pre-ordering a book is really easy. I have pre-ordered this book. If you want to learn more about her, you can go to her author site which is susannemariga.com. I really encourage you all to go check her out because I have gone down a deep Susanne Mariga rabbit hole and I have to tell you she is an exceptional storyteller and I am excited to have her with us today. Susanne, welcome.
Susanne Mariga: Hello. I’m glad to be here with you today, Tara.
Tara Newman: Yeah. I’m super excited. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe if you could weave in a little bit of your JOANN’s story because I love it so much, into telling us about yourself, where you started, and how you got here? I’d so appreciate it.
Susanne Mariga: Sure, definitely. You obviously know I’m an accountant by trade and started my own business when I had my daughter. I started out in public accounting and really, Andersen in Chicago, and later went to KPMG when I had my daughter, started my own firm. I always find that a lot of times, it’s the things that lead up to where you are that gets you where you are. I always figured I had a lot of lucky breaks along the way. I grew up in a neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a neighborhood called Seven Hills, and not necessarily the best neighborhood, it was a neighborhood that was on academic probation the day that I graduated and over 20 years later, it’s still on academic probation. A lot of teenage pregnancies, a lot of kids at that time didn’t go to college, still this time don’t go to college, and really just a series of events.
I think, Tara, you’re talking about how I got my first internship at Procter & Gamble, which is by the way, an extremely hard company to get into. You actually have to take a problem-solving test to get into this company. It’s interesting because I just wanted a prom dress, I just wanted a prom dress and JOANN Fabrics, every year, had a sale. The sale was called the Black Friday Sale and you could get all their taffeta fabric, it would be like 50% off just if you were a normal customer and then if you were an employee, you got an extra discount off of that. I figured I was going to make this killer prom dress for like under $100, the kind that the supermodels or the kind that you could look at Essence Magazine or Glamour Magazine and be like, “That’s $1000 dress,” and I was going to make this for like $100 at JOANN Fabrics. I was working on Black Friday because, obviously, that was the busy, busy day, it’s all hands on deck.
At the time, it was later that night, not quite closing but pretty late at night, this gentleman comes in, probably like in his 50s and he has his wife. She is a real artist in terms of making quilts. When you make quilts, you use something called calico fabric and it’s that pretty cotton fabric that has like flowers, you can get different types of flowers. I love calico fabric. I’m addicted to it. If I could just quilt all day in addition to being an accountant, I would do that. It’s interesting because as she was bringing up these rims and rims of fabric and I was cutting it for her, you always get to the very bottom of the roll. Literally, she would get to this point, she had maybe a quarter of a yard left or just a few inches left—and back then, JOANN sold it for like five cents a yard because reality was they couldn’t do much with a couple inches of fabric—she would get to the end of the yard and I’m like, “You got just a few inches left, I can cut this for you and we can put it back into the remnants, or you can just actually have it for five cents a yard and you can make mistakes on your quilt, you can make bows for your grandkids, whatever you want to do you can do with this fabric.” Every time I got to the end, she would say, “Okay, I’ll just keep it then.” It’s interesting because later that summer, they were interviewing for interns, this company called Procter & Gamble. It was interesting because everybody wanted that job because they were actually paying $300 a week.That was a lot of money back then in like 1994. That’s a ton of money.
Tara Newman: Yeah. I loved when you told us you said it was like another $3.25 cents or something than you were making at JOANN’s.
Susanne Mariga: Exactly, especially for like a high school kid, that was a lot of money. I remember there were so many people lined up outside for this opportunity that you waited literally like four hours just to get your interview slot. They finally called my name and I came in there and I had my auntie’s hand-me-down suit. It’s like a gray suit and I had an attache case that my mom said, “You must have an attache case,” so she gave me one. I have my resume that I had learned to do from a library book online—back then it wasn’t even online, it was like you go to the library, you check out a book and then you create a resume based upon the sample with your word processor—I go in and I sit at the table next to this older gentleman. I don’t know who he is and he’s asking me all these questions and I’m answering these questions, this is like my first real interview I ever had in my life.
Tara Newman: Are you sweating?
Susanne Mariga: I’m sweating but I just want him to tell me I got the $300. I’m 18, I want $300. Tell me I got $300. I got an attache case, I’m like I need $300. I’m answering these questions to the best of my ability and finally, he just stops and I’m like, “What’s this about?” He goes, “Do you remember me?” I felt so bad, I didn’t remember him and I was trying to be polite and I was like, “You look familiar, that smile,” and he goes, “Well, you served me earlier this year. I came into your store, JOANN Fabrics. My wife loves to sew quilts and you helped her out.” I had no idea that day I was serving the director of sales for Procter & Gamble. What happened was I ended up getting the job. It was an incredible experience because one, being 18 years old working for one of the hardest companies to get in because there’s a problem-solving test, being able to learn skills of like how to work with older people, Procter & Gamble is really known for their training, I got to like work with Microsoft Word—they sent me to like Procter & Gamble college—I got to work with Microsoft Word and Excel which back then was a big deal, they didn’t teach that in school. It really put me on a different trajectory.
What it allowed me to do was when I was getting close to graduating from college, I was interviewing with all the Big Four firms and I ended up getting offers with every single Big Four firm simply because of what was on my resume. Obviously, I ended up going with Arthur Andersen in Chicago because that was their flagship office, there was no place else that I ever wanted to live with Chicago at the time, and really, it just puts you in a completely different trajectory. This is really significant because a lot of my peers, as I was ending my internship that summer, we went to TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday). They always take you to the exit lunch when you’re ending your internship. It was interesting because I was literally sitting down, eating lunch with all my colleagues, and my colleagues who were PhDs, because at that point I was in their pharmaceutical department and then literally, my mentors were doctors so and so. As I was ordering my hamburger and my fries, because I’m 18, I can eat that at the time, the waitress comes up to me and she’s a girl that I went to high school with, and not just high school, we went to elementary school. We actually lived on the same street. We were really good friends. I would actually go over to her house. We’d play when we were kids. She was working as a waitress and she wasn’t going to college. I knew that she wasn’t going to college. That was her life, and that is probably still her life to this day, working at a restaurant as a waitress. It really occurred to me at that time that my life was just going to be really different and very different than anybody I had ever grown up with simply because of cutting fabric that day at JOANN fabrics.
Tara Newman: I love that story when I listened to you tell the story. By the way, Susanne has a podcast, what’s the name of the podcast again?
Susanne Mariga: It’s called The Profit Talk.
Tara Newman: Okay, The Profit Talk. She’s got a really great episode where she talks about inclusivity and she tells this story. The whole time she’s telling the story, she’s a great storyteller, but I had an idea what was coming next, it was sort of a foreshadowing, but then when she said that it was the person who she served at JOANN’s, I literally shouted in my car. I was like, “Shut the front door!” That was so exciting.
Susanne Mariga: Yeah, it’s a small world. It’s gotten a lot smaller now, the internet.
Tara Newman: It really has. By the way, I think we were talking about how we’re both Profit First certified professionals but we have this different background. I think it’s actually really interesting because while you were going through that program at Procter & Gamble, and then Arthur Andersen and you were going through Procter & Gamble college and you were going through the ranks at Arthur Andersen, I was the counterpart in the organizational development department that was creating the university and working on the learning and development and the university and things like that. That’s where I was in those organizations. I think it’s so interesting to actually be here with you and see somebody who’s gone through some of the programs that I’ve created and how successful they’ve been. It was really awesome hearing you talk about that on your podcast, it was super cool.
Susanne Mariga: Yeah, very small world then.
Tara Newman: Yeah. It’s funny when you were talking about being at Arthur Andersen and they were grading you, force ranking you into A, B, and C categories and we can have a whole jam out on that at some point but not today because I do want to talk to you about that, but for today, I talk about Profit First, I’ve talked about what it is, I would love to hear you talk about what is Profit First in your words.
Susanne Mariga: Profit First to me, it was a life changer. I was like a lot of businesses, we were literally focused on the accounting equation. You guys know it, revenue minus expenses equals profit. What we’re taught is literally “I’ve got a license in this,” you focus on sales, sales, you sell to anybody that breathes and then you’re responsible, you pay off your debt, you don’t leave anybody hanging and you pay your expenses. Naturally, we think that profit is going to follow. It’s interesting because just like many business owners, I focus on that. I figured, “You know what, we would make it up in margins. Eventually, if you get these government contracts, you’re going to make it up in margins.” What I found was literally, I was on this hamstring, I couldn’t get off. At the end of the day it literally got to the point in my life that my husband sat me down and goes, “You know what, honey, you’d be better off getting a job. You could make more money getting a job. And we’ll see you more.” He was absolutely right. Luckily that year, someone had recommended the book Profit First for me. As I was reading Mike Michalowicz’s story, it just rang true. He was speaking the words of my life is how I felt.
Tara Newman: Yes. His story and my story are very parallel as well.
Susanne Mariga: It is. It very much is. A lot of my clients were also living that story. They would come to my office, I remember one gentleman and he would bring the shoe box, that awful shoe box from Payless that’s filled with receipts. He would plop down right across from me and he would be like, “Whatever you do, I don’t pay any taxes.” I would dig at the bottom of the shoebox, it was always a crumpled up P&L and I was like, “Oh, don’t worry sir, you’re not going to pay any taxes. You didn’t make any money. We might be able to get you some, earn an income credit. But you’re not going to pay any taxes.” He’d go away, come back a couple days later, he’d be excited he’s getting his $2000 back from earned income credit. He wants to give me the hug, he thinks I’m the best accountant in the world—I think I’m the best accountant in the world—and then he comes back the next year with the same shoe box with new receipts and he plops down again and goes, “I don’t pay any taxes,” and I get to the bottom of the P&L and I’m like, “Don’t worry, sir, you’re not going to pay any taxes because frankly, you still didn’t make money.”
Then he goes away and then the third year, it’s just not funny anymore. He’s more tired. I know him better because he’s scaled his business now, he’s got some employees, he’s writing me at 11 o’clock at night because that’s the only time that he can write, answer my questions and he still manages to come back and he still manages to ask me, “Whatever you did the year before, do it again.” I’m like, “Look sir, you’re working like crazy hours, you’re calling me at 11 o’clock at night, I know you better than you know yourself because I see your numbers. You don’t own your own home, you don’t even own your own car, and frankly, I’m going to retire one day. I’m concerned about you. I don’t see how you’re going to retire, if all that you’re living on is earned income credit. I really don’t know how you’re going to retire.” This client, they would get in these huge government contracts, millions of dollar government contracts.
Tara Newman: Is this because they’re an MBE?
Susanne Mariga: MBE, WBE, yeah.
Tara Newman: Okay, because I know I just want to dissect this for a second, when you are designated a minority business enterprise or a woman’s business enterprise, you have the ability to get contracts from the government that designate purchase from MBEs or WBEs. I just wanted to clarify for my audience, when you say contracts or government contracts, that’s what she’s talking about, she’s talking about contracts that are specifically awarded to these types of businesses. He’s getting these big contracts that are meant to further his economic standing.
Susanne Mariga: Exactly. A lot of times, and it depends on the government, it depends on the entity, they may have a five percent set aside that they’ve set aside for minorities who typically don’t have the inroads, they don’t have the contacts, they didn’t come from an Arthur Andersen to be able to get those. What happens is people see these millions of dollars, I can make a million dollars servicing defense contracts or these large government contracts. But they don’t understand that as your business grows, if you don’t have enough margins, your overhead grows too, you gotta get more office space, you gotta get more computers, and everything grows. They’re not pricing right. What they find out is “Hey, I got a $30 million contract but I’m running a $1 million loss now because I’m financing the government. I’m financing this large corporation.” I saw these types of things happening over and over again. Hence, my journey with Profit First.
Tara Newman: I think we’re starting to tap into it but you’ve written this book specifically for minority business enterprises. These are the people who are getting these contracts and things like that, what was your motivation for writing the book about Profit First and how it can speak directly to these folks?
Susanne Mariga: As minority business owners, a lot of us are first generation, sometimes even in this country, my dad is Chinese from China and so I’m a first-generation American from his side. My mother is African-American, so we’re literally three generations removed from slavery. Literally, I can say that my great-grandmother was the daughter of a slave and that means that they were sharecroppers in North Carolina so they were free from plantations just to work in the plantation. My grandfather had a third grade education, that’s it. So a lot of us, when we’re entering the business world, if we even go to college, if we even get that opportunity to go to college, because from where I’m from, most people didn’t go to college, we’re the first ones to graduate from college in our family. I was the first to graduate from college on my mother’s side. So we don’t know what we don’t know. Specifically, I remember when I first went to work for Arthur Andersen, I moved to Chicago from Ohio because Ohio State Go Bucks! One of the first things I asked my colleagues was, “Where should I live? Where’s the awesome place to live?” They looked at me and they meant well, They said, “Whatever you do, you should check out Lincoln Park, you should check out Lakeview,” and if any of you guys know about Chicago, those are pretty nice areas. Everybody looks like Barbie and Ken and they drive a Jetta and one day they’re going to have a BMW, and you guys know the area, everything is nice and fun. There’s like a Bally’s or I think now they’re called LA Fitness on every single corner and a Jamba Juice on that corner. You can picture the area and they said, “Whatever you do, don’t live on the South Side, stay away from the South Side, it’s just not safe.”
They were well meaning, they were just trying to protect their colleague. If you ever get to know me, I’m a bit adventurous. I don’t stay in my box too well and eventually, I drifted off into the South Side. I wanted to see what was going on the South Side, what parties were going on the South Side that weren’t happening on the North Side because I’m frankly tired of hanging around Barbie and Ken and their Jetta, so I would venture out on the South Side. If you guys are not familiar with South Side of Chicago, it’s definitely gone through a lot of changes recently with gentrification but the buildings are probably just as old as the North Side because if you say Chicago, it means the same age all around. But there was definitely an economic difference on the South Side versus North Side. There are less jobs, a lot more people, there are less stores, grocery stores. Definitely, you don’t want to be walking outside at night and my colleagues were absolutely right. One thing about me is things stay with me a little bit longer than I like sometimes and I kept thinking about, some people will run from it, but for me I’m like, “How do we change this? How do we start to up level these communities and equalize the law?” That was one of the questions that just kept going through my head.
Then I had a secondary experience and I think life is funny, when you have a calling to do something and you really don’t want to do it, I think God just keeps putting it in front of your face, I think is what happens. I went to go visit my aunt. They live in Chester, Pennsylvania, which is like a suburb of Philadelphia but it’s not like a really great suburb. It’s one of those places where the townhomes are literally glued together. There’s an alley behind her house and I pulled up in my rental car right next to the alley, I looked across the street and there’s a utility pole. On this utility pole, there are balloons, there are teddy bears, there are flowers just all around it, it looks like this shrine. I get out of my car and my aunt’s there to greet me and I’m like, “So what’s going on here? We’re decorating poles now? Is that the new thing?” She goes, “No, Susanne, there was a little boy who was in the alley and he got caught in gang fire and he was killed.” Again, it stays with me like, “How do we change this? How do we create a change? How do we uplevel communities like this? Why is this only happening in Chester or South Side?” The reality is it’s happening in every city, every city has a South Side, Chicago, West Side, Chicago. I don’t care if you’re in Houston, New York, Orlando, everybody, there’s always a side of town where people are like, “Don’t go on there.” Instead of saying don’t go there, let’s think about how do we change that.
Really, the answer that kept coming back to me is we need to redistribute well but that’s not going to happen via reparations, that’s going to help happen through job creation and it’s going to happen through job creation in the communities. That’s hence why I wrote Profit First For Minority Business Enterprises because when we create businesses, especially businesses that scale minority business enterprises, we don’t just change our own legacy, we change our neighbor’s legacy, we change our children’s legacy, we change our community’s legacy, we give jobs, we give hope, and we said, “You know what, you can be a doctor. You can have a clinic. You can own a grocery store. You can have a franchise that’s a barber shop.” We give vision to our community so that drugs don’t necessarily have to be the primary way that people make an earning in these neighborhoods.
I know Tara, you and I were talking about statistics before we got on and started recording but there was a sense of study that was done in 2017 and it said that the average black household made $40,258, just $40,258 a year in the average black household. At the same time, the average white household was making $68,145. If you do the math on that, what that means is that a black family has to work 1.7 times almost twice as hard, literally, twice as hard in order to have the same standard of living. You’ve got parents that can’t be there because they frankly have to work two jobs or a ton of overtime in order to supply and provide for their families and so the kids are raising themselves in some cases. It’s just the numbers about it. It really comes out to really Profit First, teaching people how to Profit First because what you don’t know, you don’t know and really creating wealth from that level.
Tara Newman: Yeah. What I just want to say is that is just one statistic in one aspect and there are statistics that support the oppression in this system full circle. Just for my audience to hear, you know that and I know that, that was just one simple statistic. I love that you brought up profit as a solution to this because I truly believe that profit and small business owners who operate from Profit First, not just do they eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, but they can eradicate entire poverty in lots of different areas and scarcity in lots of different areas. I know that in the states, I think our system, our capitalism is broken with crony capitalism but I actually think that the more businesses profit, we could actually come to a much more healthy form of capitalism even in that sense just on a whole. It’s such an important conversation and to be doing this work throughout all the intersections of business and of money. What have you learned helping minority business enterprises implement Profit First?
Susanne Mariga: I think whenever you start any project, my background I think I’m a scientist at heart, and when I started this book I actually had a hypothesis. I had some assumptions based upon statistics that there’s discrimination, and there is, there’s definitely inequity. We look at even the pandemic that we are exiting from right now, the pandemic, the people that were essential workers, the people that had the most deaths, the people that were most affected by coronaviruses were minorities because minorities are the front line workers. They’re in the grocery store, they’re mowing the lawns, they’re doing your construction for you and so they had the most impact in terms of being affected by COVID. It does exist and I thought that my book would really, I thought I was going to have statistics, how do you overcome statistics?
It’s interesting because as I was reading the book or writing the book, one of the things I did was I interviewed some of my clients, I interviewed some other uber successful minority business enterprises, and one of the questions I asked them was “Tell me about the biggest challenge that you had in growing your business.” These businesses are seven figure businesses that I’m interviewing. You know, Tara, only four percent of companies ever make it to a million dollars. These are companies that have really gone beyond what’s normal.
Tara Newman: Right. Only one percent of female business owners and the number, yeah I’m surprised actually that four percent, it’s that high to be honest.
Susanne Mariga: Yeah, exactly. These are some killer businesses. The reason why I wanted to interview them was to really find out their stories, find out what they did differently in order to pass that along. One of the questions I asked them, I said, “What was your biggest challenge?” I’ll be honest, I expected them to say it was entering rooms where nobody looked like you, overcoming racism, and discrimination. I was expecting to have a book about how to do that. It’s interesting because the responses that they gave me was, “You know what, the biggest challenge was understanding the numbers. The biggest challenge was working with people and being able to motivate the team. The biggest challenge was believing in your own spark or being able to get off the beaten track of what my family expected me to do.” But none of them said it was the color of their skin as being the biggest obstacle.
I think that has something to say as we develop, this century is bringing us into a whole different level of technology changes and opportunity that’s ever been there before. Yes, discrimination does happen but there’s also other doors opening and it’s about believing in ourselves and just doing it and not really focusing on other people’s thoughts on it, utilizing that technology. If you’re in a bad area, a bad neighborhood, maybe it’s time to go city wide, maybe it’s time to go statewide, maybe it’s time to go nationwide, maybe it’s time to go worldwide to build your audience and your platform. But really your color, your skin should not stop you.
Tara Newman: Yeah. I think that’s really an interesting point that you bring up. I’m just curious to know, when I’m hearing you actually, there’s something really important that you’re saying too and it’s the fact that you are saying that, as a minority, as somebody who has worked with minority business enterprises, you have a level of credibility in being able to say that. I think it’s really important that people have representation to see that this has been possible for these four percent of the business owners and that these are the conversations that they are having at the level that they are having it, that there’s evidence and proof in the world. I think that is really an important aspect of your book.
Susanne Mariga: Definitely. I think it’s different for entrepreneurship because as entrepreneurs, we pave our own way. We create what did not exist previously so it’s a different vehicle. I think in the corporate world it’s very different. I think in the corporate world, you’ll go to any large company, and I experienced it with the corporations that I worked for where they may have bragged about having minorities but they were in the mail room, or they were secretaries, they weren’t the doctors so-and-sos. Because they didn’t have mentors and if they did have mentors, they didn’t have champions that pushed them along. I’ll say that’s probably one thing that I had at Procter & Gamble was I had champions, people that rooted for me even at Andersen, I have people that rooted for me and that makes a big thing. I think that it also depends, like entrepreneurship is a completely different vehicle than the corporate world.
Tara Newman: Yeah. I think you’re right, it could be really isolating and in a good way and in a bad way. It might isolate you from some of the experiences you might have had in corporate that were maybe positive or negative. You don’t have those experiences and you get to create your own experiences, but also isolating in the sense that you want a community around you. I’m curious, how can we start to level the playing field? Because I do think that, for example, you brought the pandemic and coronavirus and we had EIDL and we had PPP. Then there was some inequity even there in terms of accessing capital for these business owners. What are some of the things that we can be doing to start leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs?
Susanne Mariga: I think it depends on where you’re at. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re creating jobs, when you get a candidate that’s a minority, are you paying them fairly? Are you paying them as if you hire Tara? Are you paying Susanne equivalent to what you pay Tara? That’s the first thing. If you’re not, then go back and go, “Why am I not?” Why am I not paying them fairly? One of the common complaints that I get is they say they can’t find any qualified minority candidates. I get that often too in the corporate world. Then maybe what that means is you have to have a mission, it has to be a true passion that hey, I want to change the next generation, I want to change the generation that my kids are going to grow up at and what that looks like in terms of their schools. What that means is maybe I’m going to get an intern, maybe I’m going to hire an intern that doesn’t have any experience.
When you’re graduating from high school, most things are pretty equal. If you got a 3.0 or 3.5 at your school, a 3.5 in an inner city school, they probably have a simpler work experience and at that point, that playing field is level. Maybe making sure if I can bring on two, bring in one minority candidate, bring in a non-minority candidate and then if I have one and everything’s equal, why not bring in the minority candidate and mentor them and give them that experience and just take them through college? If they work for you afterwards, that’s even better. Maybe starting from that grassroot effort of “Hey, I want to change the face of what my company looks like in the next five years and if I can’t find anybody at my level, because they’re first generation, to go to college or didn’t go to college, let me take someone from the lower level and let me mentor them up,” so taking it from that way.
Supplier diversity is also really important. If I’m buying supplies, maybe I want to look at some minority-owned enterprises or minority-owned businesses for my artwork. When I designed my podcast, I specifically picked a minority artist because I knew that they would use the flashy color, I knew it would have a whole different feel for it than your traditional put on a suit and you’re standing there. I wanted to feel a little bit different so maybe saying, “Hey, I want a little bit of that diversity,” and the reality too in our century, you will not grow to be a national brand unless you embrace diversity because the workforce is changing. At this point in time, what you’re going to find is there are more women and minorities that are entering in the workforce than you have your traditional non-minority. Again, it’s building that next level workforce and mentoring and championing them along the way.
Tara Newman: Yeah, when I left my corporate job in August 2015, I was definitely out of values alignment with the organization by the time I left. The CEO called me into his office and he’s like, “What do you think that we can do for the future?” I’m like, “Listen, you got a massive issue because you are a white conservative,” we were aerospace defense, “You’re primarily white, very male driven, very conservative and the people who are coming into the workforce and who are in the workforce now are not white, not male, and not a baby boomer. We’ve got millennials, we’ve got women, and we’ve got a lot of people of color and diversity coming in and you are not attractive to any of those people. You’re not going to be able to hire anybody. You’re done.”
Susanne Mariga: That’s definitely true. If you were in defense to contract, they had government contracts and I’m sure they were probably serving as a prime which means they had probably requirements to bring on a to do business with minorities, at least at five percent if they have federal contracts. Again, that would be an opportunity to partner for minority vendor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that’s going to be building airplanes because that takes a lot of capital but maybe you could have someone, maybe they’re a logistics company, maybe they are a trucking company, you could have brought that in to fulfill that requirement because again, it’s giving them that experience in order to do that, in order to really be able to change their communities also with it.
Tara Newman: The same thing goes for small business owners and entrepreneurs and the people who are listening to this podcast, if you are buying client gifts, make an effort to Google gift companies that are black owned or other types of people of color, women of color, companies that have some social justice behind it where they’re looking to change the level of playing field, change people’s legacies, that kind of thing, there are so many of these companies coming up, Instagram is full of them, Calendly is a great company, that’s minority owned, they’ve got a black owner. There are tons of companies that you can be Googling and researching. It’s genuinely not that hard to make this change.
Susanne Mariga: It starts the commitment of are you going to be the person that says “Just don’t live on the South Side”? My colleagues, and they didn’t mean any bad by it, they just wanted me to be safe but I would have survived the South Side too, and they would probably too, but are you going to be the person that says, “You know what, if it’s broke, how do we fix this? Because eventually, the South Side is going to bleed over to downtown and eventually it’s going to bleed over to the North Side and eventually it’s going to affect your ability to hire.”
Tara Newman: Yeah, and I think that as business owners, if we are operating from Profit First, we have a really unique ability to create change because we have the funds to create change. My son likes superheroes. We were watching Justice League and my favorite superhero is Batman in the Justice League. Did you see the movie Justice League?
Susanne Mariga: Yeah, I’ve seen a few.
Tara Newman: So in the Justice League, the recent one with a four hour one, Flash asks Batman, “What’s your superpower?” As they’re getting into Batman’s BMW Batmobile, Batman, Ben Affleck, turns around to Flash, he goes, “I’m rich.”
Susanne Mariga: That’s a pretty cool superpower.
Tara Newman: I know. That’s why he’s my favorite. But that’s really how I see Profit First in the sense that it allows me to fund different things. It allows me to have the flexibility to pay my team more, maybe above what the range would be for those positions and to make change on a more impactful level. I know you talk about that you’re here to change legacies, what does that look like or mean to you?
Susanne Mariga: It’s about giving your children opportunities that you didn’t have. I know for my dad, he was an accountant and he had his own firm. He was actually magna cum laude of his college class at University of Kentucky. When he went to graduate and he was applying for these jobs at these Big Four, back then, the gate companies, accounting firms, none of them would hire him because they said that he had an accent. It was always something that stung him and hurt him. He never wanted that to be the legacy that his kids would have. When I went and got offered all Big Four, it was like this huge deal for him like oh my gosh. It really is about giving opportunities to your kids so that we’re eradicating the ghettos of America. If we distribute the wealth and we give everyone an equal opportunity, then there won’t be parts of town that we’re afraid to go into.
Tara Newman: Yeah. It’s really important. As we wrap here, I want to ask you a question. It’s a personal question and I hope that my listeners appreciate the question I’m asking and that they get something out of this as well, but I’m interested to hear from you as my colleague, as another Profit First Professional, I was so excited to have your book come out because what we’re talking about here today is this intersectionality with money and there’s so much that intersects with money, there’s all the isms, race, gender, ableism, classism, it’s a real complicated concept and things to unpack. How can I be an ally, specifically as a Profit First Professional, as I engage in having more of these inclusive conversations around money? What would your advice to me, and hopefully to my audience, be?
Susanne Mariga: I think you said it, Tara, when you implement Profit First, you have profits, you have more money, you have a different superpower. It’s called “how do I leave the world a better place than what it was when I started it?” What little drops could I add to the river that expand over time? What has an ROI, just like how we do it in our business? One of the things that we do as employers, as we scale our businesses is we are the job creators, we are the opportunity creators. I look back at my own firm. We’ve had people that have joined our firm, they’re people of color, we’ve had people not of color to join our firm. It’s interesting because when I look back at them, when they first came to me, they were like so green, they were just out of college, they were first generation and some of them we had to have conversations when they walked through my office door like is that jeans? Is that really, really jeans? We got government contracts, we can’t be wearing jeans.
Sometimes, we had to have conversations of training, like how do we do things better. The fact is because we’re people of color, people judge us at a different standard so we can’t wear jeans. It’s okay for Tara to wear jeans but not necessary for me to wear jeans. We had some hard conversations. At the end of the day, by the time they’ve left, they were mentored. These are the people that had now presented in front of city councils, they were on television, and they were actually being recruited by Big Four firms now and coming into the other companies as being managers. It was because I gave them a chance when nobody would give them a chance when they just got out of college. It’s about creating opportunities, giving someone a chance, not only that but mentoring them, loving them, and putting in enough love. They’re not your kids but they’re your kids in some way, especially as we get a little bit older. How do I groom this person into the next generation? That’s one thing that we can do, especially if you’re not a person of color, that is a big way of making that ripple in the pond. I know one of the things that we’re doing as part of the book, minority business enterprises, in addition to hopefully this book being a legacy changer, we’ve got it that a dollar, for every single book that’s sold, a dollar, and you don’t make a lot of money when you write a book.
Tara Newman: True story.
Susanne Mariga: You make like four bucks every time you write a book, four dollars, a dollar for every book that is sold is actually going towards HOPE worldwide where literally, HOPE worldwide, we’re creating a scholarship, it’s in a permanent endowment for you so this is going to exist even when I die, and books are sold. A dollar for every book is going to go towards a girl’s tuition in Zimbabwe. I picked Zimbabwe because, first of all, my husband’s from Zimbabwe, but in the Zimbabwean culture, you get to go to college for free traditionally because the government paid for college but most kids don’t get to go to college because their parents can’t afford the primary school, they can’t afford the secondary school. It’s like $214 to send a girl to school for a semester and what that does for that girl is—Zimbabwe is a country where they allow polygamy—if you don’t go to school, then you have to marry in order to be able to survive. What my goal is by sending girls to school and having that dollar go towards their tuition is you will never be able to tell a doctor, unless she’s kinky, you’ll never be able to tell a doctor, “You gotta be the second wife of this man.” That is my goal to eradicate that having to marry in order to make a living. Again, just thinking about how do I take my dollars, my discretionary dollars that I have to spend anyway, because I gotta hire somebody anyway, and how do I create a ripple that has a lasting impact?
Tara Newman: Thank you for sharing that, I think that’s so important and I work with a lot of women small business owners and we’re still struggling to have conversations around money, we’re still struggling to find our motivation for making money, we’re still struggling with our desire to want things and that our wants and goals might not look the same as the wants and goals that were portrayed to us because maybe they’re through a more masculine lens or what have you. But I’m genuinely convinced that the more women business owners that profit, the more change we can make in the world.
Susanne Mariga: Definitely. It’s a cumulative effect.
Tara Newman: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming by. Let’s remind everybody where they can find you, where they can grab your book.
Susanne Mariga: All right. The book is on sale, it’s on pre-order, it’s already hit number one new release the day that we announced the book was coming.
Tara Newman: Amazing.
Susanne Mariga: This is a message that the world has been waiting for and the book reviews that we’ve gotten back have been absolutely stellar. This book is going to sell out, okay? So make sure you order this book. You can go to Amazon and you can order the book on Amazon Profit First For Minority Business Enterprises, and like I said, we’re sending a dollar to go to HOPE so that we can fund tuition. Even if you’re not a minority, there’s an amazing tax chapter in there. If you’re ever going to government contracting, you want to read it but definitely check out the book.
Tara Newman: Now I have another question, sorry I thought we were going to wrap, what was your favorite chapter in the book?
Susanne Mariga: I liked every chapter. When I asked my advanced readers what was the thing that stood out to them, everybody had something different, so I love the whole book so you can’t ask that question to me.
Tara Newman: I think everybody should go and buy the book, one, because I want everybody to support Susanne doing this work in the world, two, she’s got stories in there from business owners who are running minority business enterprises and as small business owners, I think it’s really important that we take in the perspectives of others, and three, when you buy this book, she’s making a donation to this organization that she feels passionately about and so that is really my encouragement for everybody to go and buy this book. There’s very little skin in the game here to support Susanne and her mission and her work in the world. Thank you for coming on.
Susanne Mariga: Thank you, Tara, for having me. It’s been fun.
Tara Newman: If you’ve found this podcast valuable, help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues, and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency and it’s the one thing you can do to help us out here at The Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it.
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