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Jake Randall: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Profit Junkie Podcast, where we talk about making money and making sure you keep more of that hard-earned money in your bank account. Today, I am very excited to introduce you to our guest. She is somebody who is so experienced in so many different things. When I read her bio the first time I heard about her, I almost got tired just reading the many things that she has done and that she’s involved with. Today, our guest is Lynn Richardson. Lynn, welcome to the program.
Lynn Richardson: Well, first of all, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This feels almost kind of like Cinderella in the finance world.
Jake Randall: I love it.
Lynn Richardson: Right? It’s like a dream come true to sit here with you, Jake. I’ve watched everything that you and Sandy have built, and I’m just amazed by it. I’m excited about it all. And it’s an honor to be here. So thank you for having me.
Jake Randall: You’re very welcome. Now, you have one of the most interesting stories. You have done so many different things, and I’m not going to steal all your thunder. I’m just going to highlight a couple of things. I’d love to have you tell like a quick story about how you got started and things like that. But I mean, you’re an author of, I believe, five books if I’m not mistaken.
Lynn Richardson: I think it’s about seven or eight now, maybe two haven’t come out yet. I forget.
Jake Randall: She’s a prolific author.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah.
Jake Randall: She has done some amazing things teaching entrepreneurs how to run their businesses. And we’ll talk more about that later. She also, interestingly enough, helps celebrities run their businesses because sometimes people in the celebrity status don’t necessarily know how to run their business properly. The instant fame sometimes comes with some issues, but you’ve done a lot more. But Lynn, tell me a little bit about how you got your start and kind of walk me through your evolution as a business owner.
Lynn Richardson: Well, I was born and raised in Chicago. My grandmother was 75 years old raising me. She was cleaning homes for wealthy people, still working and putting me through college, whether it was-
Jake Randall: You said 75?
Lynn Richardson: She was 75, still working cleaning homes for wealthy people, trying to provide for me. When it was 70 below zero in four feet of snow, she’s only about four foot 10, she’d be out there on the bus, doing what she had to do to provide. So we lived in the projects. I knew we were not rich, but I didn’t feel poor. Whenever I needed money for something, I’d ask my grandmother and she said, “Go look in the room on top of the shelf inside the box, inside of my pocket book wrapped up in a piece of paper towel. It’s $20.” She’d have it hidden all these different places.
So when I got off to college, I didn’t know a lot about money. I had most of the things I wanted, but I also knew that I didn’t have the things that other people had. And so I saw the way to get access to, quite frankly, material things that an 18 year old person thinks she needs, I got that through credit cards. I went to a big room my freshman year at Northwestern University there on scholarship, very blessed to do that. But I went and got a whole bunch of credit cards and I didn’t just pick one credit card. I picked one of each. I got one of each. I just went around.
I always had the gift of gab. And so eventually, very quickly I needed to pay these people. And the creditors would say, “Lynn, can you borrow the money?” I’d say, “Can I borrow it from you?” I had all kinds of funny answers, but when I got out into the real world, it was not funny at all. My credit was jacked up. I had to get my furniture from Rent-A-Center. And so there I was entering the world as an adult with money issues.
Fast-forward, I get married. I have beautiful children. I’ve got the big house in the subdivision, the biggest house. That was a mistake. And I’m making money. I have helped a lady with four bankruptcies at that time and two foreclosures overcome her credit issues. She got into a house with a very low interest rate, low down payment. I was always educating people about credit, about real estate, anything to improve their lives.
And so I became like a local celebrity in Chicago. I had a radio show, but I was living a lie. I was living check to Monday. Check to check is a blessing. That means you get paid on Friday, and by the next payday you’re broke. But check to Monday is a completely different game. You get paid on Friday, you kick it on the weekend. You pay on your past due bills, because in your mind, your current bills are not due yet. And by Monday you’re broke. I was living that lifestyle making 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, $80,000 a month. Not a year, a month. It didn’t matter how much money I made, I always found a way to be broke.
So I spend my life now helping people understand this, more money doesn’t solve a money problem. If it did, millionaires wouldn’t go bankrupt. If more money could solve the money problem, you’d never have a bankrupt millionaire or billionaire. So the only way to deal with money and to get ahead of money and really to allow money to do what it wants to do, because money really is very predictable. It’s an exact science. It’s the most predictable thing that you have. You can’t predict joy. You can’t predict if your spouse or your kids are going to be nice or nasty or what have you. But you can predict money. And it’s an exact science, one plus one equals two.
If your stuff adds up to 10, it’ll never get into two. So I tell people to spend less money. That’s the very first thing. And there are so many financial experts out here and I think we can all agree on that one. The next thing that I believe in under that it’s budgeting and everything that goes along with that. Number two is to get more money, right? So multiple streams of income, more education, more expert experience, more expertise. But when you get more money, you owe somebody, Uncle Sam. The more money you make, the more the IRS will take.
I remember my first $20,000 commission, it was about 20 years ago. I was expecting 16, $17,000 in net pay because when I got a $10,000 commission, being married with three children, I had five exemptions on my tax return. So I thought I needed five allowances on my W-4, because I never read the four page document. I just thought they created a four page document for no reason.
Jake Randall: Which the government probably has done many, many times before.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah. I just thought they did that for no reason. So I never read it. And so when I got the check, now I’m still living check to Monday, right? But I’m still making lots of money. So I’m kind of delusional, but not really. So I’m thinking I’m going to get 16, $17,000. When I got the check, it was $9,000. I almost passed out right there in the office. Let me tell you, but I couldn’t. I got dizzy. I said, “Girl, you need your money.” I said, “You’re right.”
So I went into my office, called the IRS. They literally put me on with the withholding agent. I didn’t know such a person existed. She explained all the different tax brackets. And there was my entry into understanding, wow, there is more to this. So number one, spend less money. Number two, get more money. Number three, get your money back. Understand the tax code, learn about Taxbot, everything you can. Live your life like a business. Understand that if you have a home-based business, you have access to over 475 tax deductions and you must learn how to document them so that you won’t get in trouble with the IRS.
So that’s really my story. I’m sticking to it. I tell people to start a home-based business so much prior to the pandemic. I started saying it’s so much that I almost got tired of myself. It was like, Lynn, you say this all the time, everywhere you go all the time. But you know what? Now this pandemic has shown us that everybody needs a home-based business. So that’s what I preach. That’s what I teach. That’s what I’ve learned. That’s who I am. And I’m excited about helping other people realize not only their personal dreams, but their financial dreams through having a home-based business and learning the tax code.
Jake Randall: And you actually have something called the Entrepreneurs Academy that you do that actually goes into detail on all those things, right?
Lynn Richardson: Yes. Well, I have the Entrepreneurs Academy and at lynnrichardson.com, a person can go there and get really anything, 21 Days to Financial Freedom. It’s just for those who are trying to figure out how to get over their spending addiction. My book, The Symphony: A Guide to Creating and Balancing Multiple Streams of Income. Sandy Botkin is named. Every time I talk about taxes, I always say, this is who I learned from. Every time I talk about resources, I always talk about Taxbot. And then you’re kind of in the back there as well. This is where you go for this.
So my book, The Symphony: A Guide to Creating and Balancing Multiple Streams of Income, I talk about how you may have multiple streams of income, but you don’t want to. You remember the show Good Times, “My name is Lenny and I got plenty.” Like you’re doing 50,000 things and none of it adds up. So in a musical symphony, there are many different instruments. And when you play them at the right time, they make one beautiful sound. Well, in a business symphony, you have incumbents. Incumbents I say are businesses that make money. And when they all work at the right time, they make one beautiful bank account.
Jake Randall: I love that.
Lynn Richardson: So you can get anything from a book to an online class. And for those who are interested in an all-inclusive experience where they get to attend webinars, tax talk Thursdays, masterclasses, one-on-one consultations, then those people are in the Entrepreneurs Academy. We have a community and they share information and knowledge, but everybody’s breaking through and trying to figure out how to live their life like a business so that they can document their business expenses legally, ethically, morally all with the permission of the IRS.
Jake Randall: Yeah. If you’re looking for a community to be a part of, if you want to make better financial decisions and get ahead, then definitely check out lynnrichardson.com. I want to talk real quick about, I found this fascinating. How did you get into managing businesses for celebrities?
Lynn Richardson: So I have always been very organized. When I talk about building multiple streams of income, I was on Good Morning America, I think about a month ago. And I gave three questions that each person should ask themselves. What do you do naturally? Right. There’s probably a home-based business there. I talk. I could talk for two years, two hours, two days, two months, it doesn’t matter. When I was in first grade, my report card said, “Talks too much.” I got good grades, but I had poor conduct because I couldn’t stop talking. Okay. So what do you do naturally? I have built a living out of talking.
Number two, what are you skilled at? What do you do well? So to answer your question, I have always been organized. I’m like an operation minded kind of engineer brain, but then I’ve got this other side that’s creative and what have you. I transferred myself and my little brother to another school when I was 11. I got the Options for Knowledge paper in the City of Chicago. I figured out which school in what neighborhood, because at that time I could only go to a high school if I lived in the neighborhood or if I went to a school in the neighborhood.
So I knew what I wanted for my future at the age of 11. And then I had to make sure the bus could pick up me and my little brother in the projects and go to the school in an Irish community. So running companies for celebrities now started when I was a kid organizing and planning and strategizing on life. And so what I know about celebrities, and even now with me being a public person, I don’t do for myself what I do for others. I don’t even know where I’m supposed to be. Where am I right now? Am I here with you? I don’t even know.
But I had this dream after working for J.P. Morgan Chase as a vice president of their emerging markets and multicultural initiatives, I thought, wow, what if I took all of this skill and expertise that I have and instead of putting it into a big corporation that’s already worth billions or catrillions, what if I put my skills into people, right? So if there’s a celebrity who already has a public platform, what if they had an infrastructure around them like a business? I just happened to look in a magazine. I saw Russell Simmons doing Get Your Money Right, and that was Jay Z and Beyonce and Suze Orman. And I thought, oh, that should be me. Sorry, Suze. I love you. You’re great. But I thought, wow, I could do that.
And I could speak to my community. I could speak to the culture. I could speak to the experience. And I reached out, literally. I did not know Russell Simmons. He didn’t know me. I didn’t know anybody who knew him. I didn’t even know how to get into the celebrity world, if you will. And I kept calling. I was borderline stalker-ish, but I wasn’t too crazy because they gave me a meeting and I left there running a national program. True story.
Jake Randall: Wow.
Lynn Richardson: I left there. They said, “We’re not just going to have you speak. We’re going to have you run this national program.” And so from there, I was introduced to other celebrities and I’ve always been a giver and a servant. They knew that I was a speaker and a trainer, but that part of me had been silenced by me. I didn’t want to be in the public anymore. I really wanted to be behind the scenes. So, for 10 years I spent all of my time behind the scenes developing other people. And then in 2018, I decided to come out and help people because I knew I had a message and I knew that I was the one to deliver it to the people who want to hear it from me.
Jake Randall: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So, when you went into that meeting, or I guess how long did it take you? I mean, it wasn’t like Instagram or Twitter or anything was around, so it’s not like you could DM him or his manager or something. So did you just find their phone number and just call on the phone?
Lynn Richardson: I literally came home from a business trip. I was at an annual planning meeting for my role I had at J.P. Morgan Chase. We were supposed to talk about what we’re going to do over the next three to five years. And it just hit me that I wasn’t going to do that. And on that plane ride home that night from New York to Chicago, New Jersey to Chicago, because my office, my main office was in Iselin, New Jersey. I became like straight focused on connecting with Russell Simmons. I got home that night. I looked on the internet and I couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t find a way to connect with him. I couldn’t.
And then eventually I found an email through one of his foundations and I emailed them two billion times until they didn’t call me back. And then I called them and I finally got a meeting. I said, “I’ve been sending you an email and I have something I’d like to offer. And this is who I am. And this is what I do.” And they gave me a meeting and there were about six people in the meeting. I remember it being deathly silent. They were just completely mesmerized by what I had to share.
What I wanted to share was this, that minorities it’s no secret that our net worth is lower than that of other cultures. It’s because we don’t put our money in the right places. It’s because we put our money in the wrong places. And so I wanted to be able to provide more information that could help my culture understand if you do this, then you will get where you’re trying to go. If you do that, then this is what will work. Because remember, I had been there, done that. I had lived check to Monday. I’d made lots of money. I didn’t have any. And so rich people stay rich because they act poor, and poor people stay poor because they act rich, and poor people stay poor acting rich in front of other poor people, which is real crazy. So when I said that, ain’t that crazy?
Jake Randall: It is crazy.
Lynn Richardson: Poor people stay poor.
Jake Randall: That breaks it down to the … I mean, that is such like a … I got goosebumps when you said that, like, that is such a condensation of some real foundational principles there.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah. Yeah. When they hear it from me, it’s acceptable because I am not talking about … I’m talking about us and I’m talking about my own struggles. I filed bankruptcy twice. I had a chapter 13, paid it off. Didn’t learn my whole lesson. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I did my chapter 13 bankruptcy, paid it off. And then with the economic crash of 2008, I filed a chapter seven. I lost everything, my 401(k), my home was underwater and all those things. So once I did that, I was like, oh, I have nothing else to lose. I have nowhere to go but up.
I had an opportunity to keep my Lexus in the bankruptcy. And I said, no, I’m going to drive this old beat up Toyota. You had to get in the car to get on the driver’s side from the passenger side and then crawl over. That’s what I did. And so when I speak to people, I talk to them because I’ve been there. I’ve been there at the lowest. I was on food stamps after that for about a year. I was willing to be. Now, mind you I’ve been a financials person, celebrity, VP, and I couldn’t get a job. I was willing to work anywhere as a bank teller, but the banks wouldn’t hire me as a teller because they were like, you’re too smart for this. I’m like, I need money. You know?
Jake Randall: Right.
Lynn Richardson: So when I teach people, I have been there. I’ve done that. So when you come into my presence, my clients call me the minister, preacher, gangster, teacher. Gangster is all the way Chi-Town from Chicago. Yeah, that’s me. And I have a past-
Jake Randall: You’d wear like one of those old time mobster hats or something like that.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah, give me the little mobster hat, because I’m going to beat you down, not physical violence. I’m just starting, I’m going to get you together energetically. But I’m like the Madea, the big mama of the group. I’m tough on people, but I’m tough on them because I love them. I’m tough on them because I see their future. I’m tough on them because I’ve been there where you are and I’m not going to let you make the same mistake that I made, not on my watch. So that’s how I ended up in that role with Russell Simmons.
Jake Randall: That’s awesome. When you did have that moment in 2008 where you kind of lost everything, going from success … I mean, thus far in my life, I have not lost everything, knock on wood, every piece of wood that I can find in here, right? But I have lost some big portions of some things. That was like an emotional really hard time where I didn’t have the money that I thought I did and stuff like that. But how did you go from being ultra successful when you got down? How did you deal with that? Was there an emotional thing or was it pretty much like, “Hey, I know I can do this. I just need to do it again.” Or how did you deal with that?
Lynn Richardson: First of all, it was very, very emotional. It was extremely, it was embarrassing because when I lost everything the first time, it was very public because I was pretending like I had it all together, but I really didn’t. And so when the bottom fell out, it fell out very hard. And then when that happens, you learn who your real friends are. And I had none. I had my grandmother, my husband. I’ve been married to my husband for 25 years now. Absolutely one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. And he was right there, but I felt very bad because he depended on me. He depended on me to secure our future, to secure our financial future. My children, everybody depended on me and I failed.
So once I got over that, I don’t want to get emotional now. It was like, okay, I can do this again. And one of the things that I say to people all the time, because I grew up being “very intelligent”. I was always in the high honor classes and AP classes and I got straight A’s, but you’re not smart if you’re in a dumb financial situation. That’s what I had to realize. Your academic smarts do not apply over here. So one of the key things that I want people to understand is especially when you go from being a child to an adult 18, the only thing you’ve ever been measured by as a child is either your intellect, your athletic ability or some other attributes.
But those things are not what make you successful as adults. It’s not. You don’t really get accolades for being responsible or having discipline. You get accolades for being a straight A student, the best piano player. Oh, look at Johnny. He’s good at karate, but those are not the things that will sustain you as an adult. So I had to learn as an adult the things that will sustain me, and it was having discipline and being honest and not being reckless with spending.
So I got that in those very quiet moments and those very humbling moments. But I’ll tell you the moment when I knew I had it, it was 2008, end of 2008. We were going into 2009. Barack Obama had just been elected president. It was literally the most … I don’t even know if there’s a word to describe the joy, the pure, utter emotional high, being an African American woman. And then for my parents and grandparents and all the things that African Americans have gone through in this country and worldwide, and for all people who have suffered.
Seeing that, it was a very, very great, great time. I had the ability to go to the inauguration and I had the ability to go and be a part of some events with Russell Simmons and others, but I didn’t have the money to go. I didn’t have the money to go. And it was the very first time in my life that I actually told the truth. Because prior to that moment, it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t have the money to go. I would have taken my bill money. I would have taken whatever.
Let me tell you, the inauguration of Barack Obama, people were selling their children into slavery to go, do you understand? Like everybody was there and I stayed home, and I cried. Once I made the decision to stay, I cried because I knew that I was new. I knew that I was different. That was this person making this decision not to go to the biggest event in life because she doesn’t have the money to go, I’m actually going to pay my bills and do the right thing.
Well, later that year I was appointed to be the president to … I’m sorry, not the president, but the chief operating executive of one of Russell Simmons foundations. I then went on to run other companies for celebrities. I then went on to now everything that I’m living now, I don’t dream. I’m living my dream and I’ve been living my dream. And I believe that it was that decision. That decision is the one that took me over.
So, I went through it all. I went through embarrassment. I went through shame, but then you can’t do anything with shame. You can’t do anything with embarrassment. You have to forgive yourself. God forgives us, so who are we not to forgive ourselves? So once I figured it out, I was like, you can do this. You can spend less money. I have degrees in math, economics and finance. Okay. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Jake Randall: Yeah.
Lynn Richardson: I’m from some of the world’s greatest institutions. So I just started to use the common sense and tell myself the truth and it all worked out. That’s why I know other people can be financially free.
Jake Randall: I love that because I think as entrepreneurs, we lie to ourselves a lot, right?
Lynn Richardson: Oh my God.
Jake Randall: Or we position ourselves like sometimes… because we don’t want to be… we want to be successful. And sometimes we kind of do a same thing. Like fake it till you make it. Or pretend you’re more successful but you’re not. But I think that I love that moment of truth moment. I think everybody has to have a moment of truth. Yours happened to be that decision right there.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah.
Jake Randall: What a powerful story.
Lynn Richardson: And for me now, what it means is there is nothing that I can’t say no to. I said no to the first inauguration of Barack Obama. Now, for the second one, I was there and I was running a program. So you see how things kind of turn around, and kind of go in a different direction. But now it’s very easy for me to say, no, I’m not going to do that. Nope. I’m not going to do that either. Oh no, that doesn’t fit in my budget. Nope. I’m not interested in that.
And not just decisions about money, but also decisions about people, partnerships, relationships. So in the Entrepreneurs Academy, really what I teach people is how to stand up and be the truth, tell the truth, and live the truth. Because when you live the truth, then everything that you are looking to do will come. And I say, if you keep moving forward with the truth and with love, then you will collide into your opportunity. You will collide into that open door. You will collide into that space.
But if it’s not the truth, and so kind of wrapping it around when people call me Lynn, I want to know about tax deductions. So can I go back to 2019? If you were running your business like a business with the intent of making a profit in 2019, and you can document every single expense. The first year I heard Sandy Botkin, I went to every single expense. I still have the spreadsheet. I could document every single penny. I know who, what, when, where, why and how much, the $2 and 18 cents, everything. And so when you live the truth, you get to experience what the truth will bring to you. So, yeah, but it was rough. It was rough, Jake. It was a very, very tough time. And that’s why I know people can get through it.
Jake Randall: I love that. I think you have such a fascinating and inspiring, right? Because a lot of entrepreneurs know how to make money, but not very many of them know how to manage it, right?
Lynn Richardson: Yeah.
Jake Randall: I think that what separates wealth from like flash in the pan entrepreneur is what you teach. It’s how to like … I think it’s a struggle for everybody. Like you said earlier, it doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or just starting out. I mean, it’s a universal problem that you end up not … If you don’t learn those skills, it just totally can change your life for good or for bad.
Lynn Richardson: Yeah. In my book, The Symphony, I talk about the four personalities of the entrepreneur. This is any entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter if you are a hairstylist or if you’ve got a home business as a tax coach, professional, expert, it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. As an entrepreneur, there’s the dreamer. The dreamer is the one who has the big idea and sees it all great. And it is great. It’s wonderful. But then you need the thinker. The thinker is going to say, hold on, wait a minute. We don’t have the money for that. Hold on. We can’t do that.
So for 10 years running companies for celebrities, because I’m the person who’ll say it. I’m not afraid. I’m not a yes person. If it’s not right, I’ll tell you. If you continue to do it anyway, I’ll get in your face harder. I don’t back down. And so, because I had to do that for others, then it became something that was just naturally ingrained into not only my life, but in the lives of others that I teach. And you need that thinker to say, “Hey, wait a minute. We can do it all. We just can’t do it all at the same time.”
We can do it all, but let’s see how much it’s going to cost. Okay. We have the money to pay for this. But what about a partnership? Like all of those things. So you’ve got the dreamer, the thinker. Then you have the storyteller. Everybody who has a great idea can’t sell it. There are people who’ve got great businesses. It’s a masterpiece, but nobody knows because you can’t tell the story. So you need the storyteller, the, i.e., salesperson.
Because in Taxbot, you’re the dreamer, the storyteller, the thinker, and probably the hunter too. But really which one are you best at? And that’s what you want to spend most of your time doing. So you need the storyteller to tell folks, that’s the sales division, development, business development, whatever you want to call it, social media, marketing, PR, all of that falls into storytelling. And then you’ve got the hunter. The hunter, see the storyteller might not be the one who brings the check in, but somebody’s got to bring the money in. Sometimes the dreamer, every person who is famous, they do what they do, but they can’t necessarily seal the deal. Somebody has got to go and seal the deal, right? That’s the hunter.
The hunter is not coming home without the prey. Okay. The hunter is going out and they’re going to catch what they’re supposed to catch. So, that’s kind of what I teach in the Entrepreneurs Academy. And you can hire your kids. Your kid might be your best hunter, storyteller. You can hire your spouse. You can hire the people who you’re already providing support for anyway, but now everybody’s ingrained and ingratiated in the success of this business. So whether it’s a big bank at the end of the block, whether it’s your home-based business, whether it’s your dance studio, I think these four people have to kind of co-exist to make it successful.
Jake Randall: I love it. That one’s in The Symphony book?
Lynn Richardson: Yeah. That’s The Symphony: A Guide to Creating and Balancing Multiple Streams of Income. Yes.
Jake Randall: Check that out. You can also get that on lynnrichardson.com. I’m telling you if you want to learn how to manage money beyond, I mean, we teach a lot about taxes, but if you want to learn how to manage money, go check out lynnrichardson.com. I think you’re going to learn a ton. Follow her. She is just a wealth of knowledge as you heard today. Lynn, thank you so much for sharing your story and your business and all of your information with the world. And thanks for being on the Profit Junkie Podcast today.
Lynn Richardson: Well, thank you so much. And I can’t wait to have you on the Millionaire’s Roundtable so you can teach people about taxes. I had to plug that in there.
Jake Randall: Yeah. Absolutely. I love it. Well, thanks everybody for listening. We will see you next week on another episode of the Profit Junkie Podcast. Until then, I’m Jake Randall and we will see you then.
Lynn Richardson: Bye-bye. Thank you.
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