money vs mission

Last updated on February 23, 2021

Can’t money and mission sometimes go together?

“I am passionate about what I do…I want to make a difference… I want to have a positive impact” …all of these things might be true for some of us, however it isn’t the case that we must do it for free!

Public speaking for me is a real passion, it is from the heart, but it’s also hours of putting together a presentation, planning specific content, of regular practice, and of researching so I can be informed as new ideas and changes come to light. And it has meant doing hundreds of talks for free (or more accurately, at my own expense)

For a good while I did all talks for free, I didn’t even ask for expenses, and I was starting to question it as the costs for travel, hotels etc were adding up significantly. Then one night, I gave a talk at a big company in Manchester. I was working full time earning just below £12,000 a year at the time, and it had been a typical day; training at 6.30am, a full day at work, straight to the boxing gym for another gruelling session…. then rushing to the city centre to give the talk in the evening. The organiser had advised me of where to park, so I parked up, made my way up the gazillion floors and gave my talk; I loved meeting everyone and there were some great questions and conversations afterwards so I didn’t leave until close to 10pm. On the way out the organiser thanked me, said they’d mention me in a tweet, and then added, that to pay for parking I could use my card at the machine. 

I had assumed the parking space was free, and at the time, due to my low wages and the costs of paying for everything for boxing, it was a struggle financially, and I had about £60 in my bank with another few days until payday. I got to the payment machine and it was £18 for parking. I could hardly go back up and explain that £18 was a bit too much for me to spend on parking right now, so instead I paid it, and drove away feeling really uneasy about the whole scenario. 

Over the next few days I wrestled with the fact that whilst I was going all over the place talking about gender equality, equity, and empowerment, it was costing me money that I didn’t have and I was undervaluing myself – the exact opposite to the message I was promoting. However, since I’m not driven by money I found myself in a predicament. So I had to find reasons beyond just making money to charge a fee, and I wrote down why it was important:

1, I am not empowering women by undervaluing myself and speaking for free – if we don’t value ourselves, who will? 

2, I am allowing businesses to undervalue women if I speak for free

3, If speaking is part of my income then I can do much more of it and reach more people

4, I still want to do talks for free for those without a budget, so paid talks can sponsor these

Those 4 reasons completely changed my perspective, and from that point on, I started charging a fee. As a result of every paid talk, I did a free talk or boxing session with community groups, charities or schools, and have done so ever since.

Since making the decision to charge for talks, a lot has changed for me, it’s allowed me to go part time at work, to do far more talks both paid and for free, and the biggest personal impact is that I’ve just been able to buy a house. I got my first house as a 20 yr old, but then at 22 went off to play football in America & Sweden, and I’ve struggled to get back on the property ladder since I returned ten years ago and have been focussing everything on my boxing goals.

I know money is a big driver and measure of success for some people and that’s fine…but if not, then whatever it is that you love to do, are good at and passionate about, then please remind yourself that it’s okay to also earn a living from it as well. That’s exactly what one of my most valued mentors said to me a couple of years ago, and she was right. And of course it’s fine to do things for free if you want to, and as you build experience, but it’s also important to value yourself, and to consider your needs. Financial independence is important for all, especially women, so let’s help that happen by valuing ourselves and each other. 

With tools in hand, I’m off to renovate budget style!

Stacey – homeowner 🙂 x