Lea Schodel is a financial adviser, Yoga teacher, Permaculture Design Consultant, Social Entrepreneur and passionate advocate for Women’s well-being and financial literacy. She’s the founder of The Mindful Wealth Movement, which provides female-centric online and face-to-face workshops on financial literacy.
This is part of a series of interviews with alumni of Impact Academy a 20 week program dedicated to supporting startup and early stage entrepreneurs achieve sustainable and scalable impact. They believe that when business growth and positive social impact are implicitly linked we can create better outcomes for the future.
Lea takes a unique approach to explaining money and teaching financial literacy, using a left & right-brain, feminine and creative approach, interwoven with yogic philosophy, mindfulness and sustainability principles and life skills.
Born and raised in NZ, Lea has also lived in Japan and the UK. She now lives on a 5-acre property just outside of Brisbane, QLD with her husband and is currently renovating a 100 yr old house and establishing the property as a self-sufficient permaculture farm and retreat space.
Dare to be different and incorporate ideas and processes from other industries. Don’t be afraid to be niche and have a very focused target market.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Even though I’m a financial planner and good with numbers, I’m actually a very creative person and I’ve always found the typical approach to managing money and learning about money boring. Typical adult financial literacy courses and financial planning principles are very much focused on the technical skills and consumer practices, but with all the spreadsheets, numbers and graphs, the content and learning process can be pretty dull and uninspiring.
Money is such a loaded subject. Yet we don’t talk about it or even learn about it properly in school. As a society we’ve managed to let the concept of money and wealth dictate our sense of self-worth, success and happiness. Our relationship with money has a direct impact on our health, wellbeing, relationships and stress levels. Money underpins a lot of how we live, what we feel.
It is also my belief that the focus on the left brain (technical skills) of managing money is only part of what is needed to be able to manage money well. We also need the right mindset, beliefs and behaviours. It’s the same as saying that just because we know we should save more, or spend less, or stick to a budget doesn’t actually mean that we actually will!
So around 9 months ago I pitched an idea to a social enterprise incubator program: Impact Academy, about a new approach to financial literacy. I had an idea to create a course combining a left and right brain approach to learning with yogic philosophy and mindfulness principles.
This idea has evolved to create a new approach to financial literacy, where personal finance concepts are interwoven with principles of well-being, mindfulness, neuroscience and sustainability, and participants are empowered to integrate this knowledge with their own attitudes, beliefs and ultimately behaviors with money.
Can you please explain your business model?
We offer a 6-week online course called The Mindful Wealth Movement.
These courses are a “choose your own adventure” style of learning and participants go on an interactive and creative journey to create a healthy relationship with money.
We also deliver the course via face to face workshops and as part of retreat and wellness offerings.
Our approach to business and financial literacy is inclusive, so for every woman that pays to come through our program, we grant a scholarship for another woman who may not otherwise be able to access the program. We package these scholarships up and deliver them through partnerships with Not for Profit and community-based organizations that support women’s health, welfare and well-being.
What impact do you wish to have?
My aim is to encourage more women to take an interest in and develop healthier relationships with their money. To learn what money actually is and how to use it as a resource to create wellbeing in their lives.
It is my goal to help women understand that money is just a tool to create wealth, but it’s not wealth itself, and to assist them to create their own definitions of wealth, success and happiness and encourage them to work towards those.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We are currently working on putting together our first wealth wellness retreat which will take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing incorporating nutrition, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, personal development and money!
We’re having fun collaborating with others putting this all together and creating something truly unique and life-changing.
How do you make your ideas happen?
I have notebooks and journals full of ideas and thoughts. I can be impulsive at times (most of the time), so typically once I get an idea that I think has merit, then no matter how out of the box it might be, I usually dive straight in to explore it and see if I can create it or make it happen. I’m a big believer that the best ideas are the simple ones, but I also love the way that ideas can evolve and transform over time. I believe that the key is just to start, start small, start somewhere, anywhere! Ideas turn into reality only if we have the courage to pursue and explore them.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
I have had a number of business coaches and mentoring relationships with individuals from within my industry and outside over the years. I am constantly seeking advice, inspiration and guidance from just about anywhere and everywhere. I find that sometimes the best input and ideas come from the most unlikely places and people! I’m a big reader, TED talk watcher and podcast listener. I am constantly inspired and encouraged by other people doing incredible things!
I often turn to my family (my hubby, parents, sister and brothers, all of whom are pretty awesome) for feedback and guidance. As they know me best I find that they can often see the direction I want to take things and pick out the holes and flaws in my thinking pretty quickly and accurately. They’re also not afraid to tell me how it really is!
What does your typical day look like?
Yoga, morning coffee on the veranda with my hubby, time in the vege garden, cuddle/play time with my animals (dog, 2 cats, 2 goats, chickens), phone calls, emails, skype calls, coffee dates, paperwork, social media surfing, reading, watching the sun set, playing records, vino and cooking!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Look to other industries for inspiration. Just because something has always been done one way doesn’t mean it has to continue to be done that way. I particularly think this is relevant for service industries. Dare to be different and incorporate ideas and processes from other industries. Don’t be afraid to be niche and have a very focused target market. Ok, that’s more than one…
Who do you think is doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?
Locally, Peita Diamantidis is bringing “geekdom” to finance and teaching us how to get ‘zaptitude‘ with all things money. She takes us on our basic finance training in her book Finance Action Hero. I love Peita’s creativity, ingenuity and attitude to money and life in general. She’s one awesome lady!
Internationally – Luna Jaffe is an artist and financial planner based in the US. She’s about to open up “Sacred Money Studios” in Portland Oregano which is a place where people can learn about money, see a financial planner and participate in money workshops all whilst enjoying a coffee and a big slice of pie!
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Business plays an incredibly important role in driving a collective movement to more positive and sustainable choices and ultimately a better world! No longer can business just be about profit!
I believe that as a business owner we have the responsibility to be leaders in thought and behavior change and create motivation and opportunity to affect change in the environment, health, wellbeing, and social inclusion.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
Whilst not a social enterprise as such, I’m also a big fan of The Small Garden , an incredibly talented husband and wife duo who believe that green spaces are essential for happiness, wellbeing and the health of our cities, and specialise in connecting people with nature.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Absolutely! As a small business and in early development and expansion phase we’d love to connect, collaborate and partner with like-minded individuals and businesses.
We’d love to connect with any community organisations and NFPs whom we could partner with to provide and run scholarships programs of The Mindful Wealth Movement.
We also have big plans to expand and would be keen to secure funding to help us scale our model nationally and globally.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Brsibane’s bar and café culture is really starting to come into its own and there are heaps of funky little places opening up both in the valley, CBD and locally. Personally, if a place has a relaxed vibe, good tunes, plenty of green space and a vino list to match, I’m set!