Introduce yourself! Who are you?
My name is Jenny Karlsson. I’m a Certified Money Coach (CMC)®, founder of Financials for Creatives, and creator of the Money Compass Deck™.
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
No. Multi passionate is my middle name. Before becoming a money coach I spent ten years at the University of Pittsburgh working with cell cultures, tissue samples, and cutting edge imaging technologies. While completing a part-time MBA program I started photographing pets and their people, and quit my laboratory job three years after starting my business. Shortly after making the jump I embraced the anomaly that I am. A creative who loves making sense out of numbers. I recognized that knowing how to run a profitable creative niche business and having an MBA with a concentration in finance uniquely qualified me to help women feel empowered with money, and manage the ebb and flow of being an entrepreneur.
Today I have put photography on the shelf, to focus 100% on money coaching. It allows me to innovate, problem-solve, and support creative women entrepreneurs in building autonomy and financial ease in both their personal lives and business.
Were you scared to start the process?
To be honest it was scarier to me to be stuck in a 9-5 job where I envisioned myself in 20 years still having to ask for permission to take a vacation in my 50s to visit my family in Sweden. I hated the idea of not being in charge of my own time, or what I am compensated for my expertise. It was a natural pivot to explore entrepreneurship and create a life and business on my terms. Of course, it is scary at times when you don’t know when your next dollar will come in but mostly it is a driver to keep experimenting and evolving to offer something truly special to my clients, and I don’t regret this path one bit.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I am a board game nerd who loves strategic games like Settlers of Catan and 7 Wonders. However, I especially enjoy Dungeons and Dragons where I play a Druid who can summon animals to help me solve problems. Weekly game nights with my friends allow me to completely disconnect from business in a highly creative and unpredictable setting and it is so much fun.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
That life is one giant experiment. There are no mistakes.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
It’s ok to not have all the answers. Do good work, follow your curiosity, and know that you are enough by being you.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Me, circa 5 minutes ago. There are a lot of things we can’t control but we need to keep cultivating a daily dose of self-compassion and trust because growing and evolving has a tendency to push all of our self-sabotage buttons in an effort to stay safe.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
Your relationship with money is not set in stone. At any time throughout your life, your relationship with money is a representation of where you are, not who you are. That means that it can change. The key to befriending finance (the management of money) is to approach it from a holistic place that explores your emotions, your practical systems, and your intuition as a whole. Remember, your math skills do not determine your money skills. You can be terrible with math, but still learn the skills to take good care of money so that money can take care of you.
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
No. This is something that is constantly a work in progress. Every time I evolve and uplevel there are new “daemons” that show up and challenge my confidence. Now I approach it with curiosity because when it shows up, it means I’m onto something big.
What do you love most about yourself?
My ability to look at a problem or challenge from many different angles and come up with smart and innovative solutions.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
In 2008 when I graduated from the MBA program at the University of Pittsburgh the economy completely plummeted. As a Swedish native, it felt impossible to find a sponsor for a work visa in an organization where I could utilize my new degree. Instead of capitulating I started volunteering in my free time for an angel investor group doing due diligence on investment opportunities that they were exploring. At the same time, I kept building my photography skill set while working full-time in the lab, and building a safety net that would eventually allow me to hand in my letter of resignation.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Life doesn’t always go as planned, and the most important thing we can do is surround ourselves with an amazing group of women who will weather the storm with us. We don’t have to be islands. There is always someone who has gone through something similar and can hold space for us or offer a word of wisdom that we didn’t even know we needed until that very moment.
What motivates you most?
The pursuit to create financial freedom, location independence, and autonomy so that my family can live life on our terms doing work that I love.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
I structure my workday so that I see clients from late morning until late afternoon no more than three (sometimes four) days per week. This allows me time to not only work IN the business but also dedicate time to work ON the business (writing, planning, strategizing, marketing) as well as regular self-care and time with my family. I work from home and serve all of my clients virtually. As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to shut off the business brain at the end of the day. It’s taken many years to get here, but I find that I’m getting better and better at incorporating non-business activities that bring me joy (reading, meditating, watching tv shows, exercising) in the evening so that I can fall asleep at night.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
Journal, meditate, read, move my body, check-in on my goals, take daily action, and keep showing up.
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
Yes, I have several mentors. In choosing a mentor I always identify someone who has walked the path before me and has skills or experiences that I have yet to learn. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to get to the bottom of what is true for me. That allows me to seek answers within and trust my intuition instead of believing that someone else has the “right” answer.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I love incorporating tarot and oracle decks as a tool to connect with your intuition as part of my coaching program. I’ve developed my own oracle deck called the Money Compass Deck™ that is launching in 2020. Since money has become more and more intangible in our society I wanted to develop a tangible tool that helps support you in building an empowered relationship with money. Looking at money as a partner and asking what to do next to cultivate that relationship.
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
This is a tricky one because I feel like I am already living my dream. However, if I would add something it would be to write a book (or more) and explore the many corners of the world.
Who is your biggest role model? Why?
Pippi Longstocking. She is fiercely independent, courageous, strong, funny, compassionate, innovative, and infinitely optimistic.
Where do you find inspiration?
Long nature walks in the woods, breathing the fresh air, soaking up the sun, clearing my mind, and listening to the sounds of the animals and the wind. That’s when I always do my best thinking.
What are your biggest passions?
I’m passionate about making money less of a taboo topic to talk about. I want women to have the know-how in managing their finances so that they can trust themselves and approach life transitions (starting a business, taking maternity leave as an entrepreneur, relocating, getting a divorce, etc) with confidence. To never feel stuck but rather know that they have what it takes to pivot.
Jenny Karlsson, Certified Money Coach (CMC)® and founder of Financials for Creatives LLC, teaches creative women entrepreneurs how to befriend finance. After six years as a professional photographer, photographing pets and their people, Jenny realized that being a creative with an MBA uniquely qualified her to help women entrepreneurs transform their relationship with money. She founded Financials for Creatives to offer a holistic coaching program that combines practical, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual tools to help women gain confidence and know-how to manage the ebbs and flows of being an entrepreneur.