We recently connected with Oriana Martinez Falkowski and have shared our conversation below.
Oriana, appreciate you joining us today. If you’re open to it, can you talk to us about the best (or worst) investment you’ve made. What’s the backstory and the relevant context behind why you made the investment
We usually come to entrepreneurship because we are passionate about a particular service or product that will solve a problem that someone is experiencing; For me that passion is guiding other Latinas like me, to change their relationship with money so that money becomes a tool they can use to re-define success on their terms. This passion was born from going through my own financial journey and wanting to share what I was learning. As I started to share, I realized that I was not alone and that there were many other women out there who did not have access to financial literacy growing up. When I decided to jump into financial coaching, leaving my teaching career behind, I pictured myself spending all my time seating alongside powerful women strategizing how they can use their money to build their ideal lives. What I did not realize at that time was that in reality that picture would look a lot different. I would mostly spend my time doing 1000 other activities, some of which do not play to my strengths and others that I strongly dislike. This new reality was surprising and brought up a tremendous amount of imposter syndrome and negative emotions. I quickly realized that if I wanted to continue to move forward with my idea, I needed to get some support, this is when I decided to hire a Business Coach. Making both the monetary and time investment was challenging because this was a time of uncertainty and I was already feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to happen, but I am so glad I pushed through, because hiring a Business Coach has turned out to be one of the best investments I have made as a business owner. Working with my coach allowed me to get clear in so many ways. The first thing we did was craft a vision and this vision guided all of our work together. She helped me identify next steps and provided accountability in a firm but supportive way. One of the best gifts she gave me during our work together was the opportunity to pause and reflect on all the progress and growth I was experiencing. When we are doing the hard work of creating something new we can easily get lost in the never ending to do list or focus on what is not working or how long everything is taking that we often forget to celebrate the progress we’ve made.
Oriana, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My name is Oriana Martinez Falkowski. I am an Accredited Financial Counselor and I am the founder of Money Map Coaching. I envision a world where Latinas can make decisions based on what is important to them and their families and not from a place of fear or scarcity. At Money Map Coaching we are working towards this vision by providing one on one coaching to determined Latinas to support them in changing their relationship with money so that money becomes a tool they use to go from just surviving to thriving. We believe that personal finance is personal, our work is centered on the individual, their unique circumstances and their values. We believe that even though the systems are not in our favor, we always have agency and challenges are an opportunity to use our resources, and most importantly we believe that mountains are climbed one step a time and we always celebrate the journey!
I am originally from the Dominican Republic. I moved to the US when I was 12 years old with my mom and my sister. As it is common with other immigrants, I got the message very early on that my number 1 job was to work harder than anyone else to be able to get ahead in life. Life was always about surviving and checking off the next item on the list. There is nothing more satisfying than checking off I list, so I had done a pretty good job of that, but I still felt dissatisfied. I felt like I had been working hard all of my life and had nothing to really show for it. I was wondering when the time came to actually enjoy the hard work.
In 2016, after finishing my Masters degree while caring for 3 kids at home, I decided that I was ready to transition back into the workforce. My husband and I decided I will be the primary bread winner and he would be the parent with the flexible job in order to be available for our young children. We also decided that I was going to do this by working for myself, we would not have the security of a W2 job. All these changes were exciting and terrifying. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to make sure that we were going to be able to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I also was done just surviving and I wanted our family to have experiences and the feeling of excitement that often accompanies when you are working towards something. This was my motivation to figure out our money. This desire to provide for my family beyond the basic led me to hours and hours of educating myself around financial education. I consumed anything I could get my hands on and I even taught myself to listed to podcasts in double speed so that I could get as much information as possible during my long commutes.
As I was learning and seeing the results of applying what I was learning I started to share with others. Sharing with others made me realized that I was not alone and that many of us do not get this life changing information from our parents or school. This is where the idea of Money Map Coaching was born. I want every family to have the opportunity to choose what is important to them and make decisions based on that, not on the idea that you have no choice because of your finances.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
We live in a society that glorifies stories of overnight success and the idea of overcoming challenges and obstacles on your own. The reality is that we are interdependent social beings that need relationships to thrive. One positive aspect of having a traditional job is that many times jobs offer access to support, network and community. When you are a business owner it can be very lonely and you have to be intentional about seeking out opportunities to get mentorship, support and community. What I have learned in this journey is that asking for help, finding mentors and your tribe is a necessity in order to make the journey more enjoyable. The digital age allows us to a wider net to find that support. I have built a lot of important relationships through facebook group and other online communities. I think it is important to find the right people that will be there to support you on those days where you lack motivation or cannot see the solutions to the many challenges that come from venturing on your own.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Founding Money Map Coaching and becoming a full time financial coach was a big pivot for me from being a teacher for the visually impaired. Making the decision to pivot into something different was a complex and very difficult decision. I dealt with a lot of feelings of guilt. I felt like I was letting my students and their families down. I also felt like I was letting myself down because I had invested almost 5 years of my life and financial resources to earn a Masters degree in education in order to teach. Being the primary breadwinner for my family at that point also made things a lot more complicated, was risking my family’s well being worth me pursuing my passion? What if it didn’t work? Was I closing doors and opportunities? These were all thoughts running through my head. It is easy to leave a situation or make a change when one is very unhappy. The challenge lies in the times when things are not that bad, you can stay and be perfectly fine, but deep down you wonder what is on the other side of what if? What if I take the chance? What if it works? What if I succeed? Full of fear and uncertainty I decided to take the leap; I decided to allow myself the opportunity to explore the what ifs? I am still in the messy middle of trying to figure things out, but I have zero regrets about having taken the chance. I have grown and learned so much about myself in this journey and I know I will continue to do so and just for that in itself, it has been worth it.