Five Q's: Paco de Leon
Dealing with your finances can feel like a nightmare, but only if you let it. Musician and finance guru Paco de Leon founded The Hell Yeah Group to help creatives make progress through workshops, newsletters, and blog posts that get to the root of our finance fears. We interviewed Paco to find out what keeps her motivated to help other creatives find financial freedom and make their art work for them!
You’re a musician and a finance wizard! How does the creativity you use in your music overlap with how you approach financial problems?
They’re both ruled by math and meter, so that’s the most obvious parallel. With songs things have to fit into a time signature - how many syllables can fit into phrase or how long a guitar riff can be. It’s the same with finance. You have limited resources and you’re trying to accomplish a goal so you’re moving things around to fit. In music, the negotiations you’re making are vibe, what you’re trying to communicate and poetry. The overlap between the two is how they're both abstract. A song isn’t tangible; it doesn’t exist in the world like a painting does. Finances are a perception of value symbolized by money.
How did you get started in finance, and what keeps you motivated to spread the knowledge?
I studied finance and economics in college, worked a few years at a boutique small business consulting and management firm and then I was a financial planner at an investment and wealth management firm. I got a really good practical education through my work experience, but I wanted to apply the skills I picked up differently.
I’m motivated by the community I get to help. I get to know the people I work with, I love them, I care about them. I care about how their finances keep them up at night. I guess it comes down to treating people like humans who suffer, feel joy, and pain and love.
I also realize that this work is a big part of why I’m here. I feel a responsibility to help people in this way because it’s one of my gifts.
Why are finances so scary for so many of us?
Fear is a great way to sell things. In the financial services industry, there’s an inherent opacity. So lack of information can create fear. For a lot people who get paid to be creative, what they make says something about who they are. It’s a part of them. So having to ask for money for something that is a part of who they are is weird and can be scary. If someone doesn’t value it, then what does that say about the person who made it? Are they less valuable? If I make a spreadsheet or a budget, it doesn’t represent what my soul is. It can be hard to balance the negotiation of “this is who I am” and “this is how I provide value in society.”
What’s the best way to get your clients stop freaking out about finance and reset their brain to tackle the problem?
I try to find out what motivates them and speak to that. I try to understand their perspective and speak to that. I often use big picture perspectives - like remembering that we are sitting on a big rock, flying through space - and that helps. If you stop and contemplate that, it makes it easy for you to think, “no one is going to die because I don’t understand how sales tax works.”
I’m really good at breaking things down so it’s easy to understand. When you can understand something, it’s less scary. It’s like turning on the lights, you can see everything and then you see there isn’t anything to be afraid of.
What do you want people to take away from your workshop?
I want them to understand that all of this is totally man-made nonsense. You have the power to make the changes you need to make. I can help you take the first steps so you don’t feel paralyzed and confused.
My goal is to take people who are standing knee-deep in a shit pile, have them take a deep breath, and show them the path to get out of that shit storm. I want to help you realize that you are a powerful creature, human. And even if you’re lost, you just need a sherpa to show you the way.
// Author: Monique Boileau //