Break the Rules Like ... Helen Ngo
Not all Wonder Women wear capes, and not all Unladylike role models need to sit in the C-suite to spark change. Each week, we're introducing y'all to rad women and nonbinary folks we admire. They'll offer up pointers on how we all can #breaktheruleslike they do and help them make the world a better place. If you have a role model to shout out, send hot tips to email@example.com.
1. Introduce yourself: Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
Hi! I’m Helen Ngo, CEO and Founder of Capital Benchmark Partners, an independent financial planning firm. Most recently, I launched a second company, Made, where my Live and Earn podcast is produced to embolden more women to confidently talk about money, especially when it comes to wanting to have more money.
Originally, I was born in Saigon, Vietnam, but I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, most of my life. And yes, I speak Vietnamese fluently.
I started my career as a stock broker 10 years ago. Getting tired of slinging stocks and bonds to “rich white men,” I decided to fire that 9-to-5 corporate life to start my own business and work more with women to help them build their own wealth and financial security. It’s my mission to help women make more money and keep more of it.
2. When did you first realize this was the right path for you?
I knew corporate life was not the right fit when I realized my income had a ceiling. I wanted to make more money and be in control of the entire process of making it happen.
The back story: I asked my boss at the time for a raise. He rejected my proposal and told me I’ll probably just end up marrying rich, so it shouldn’t matter.
I got mad and decided to never ask anyone for a raise ever again. I will be the only one who’ll be responsible for giving me a raise. Since I launched my business in 2013, I’ve given myself a 20 percent raise every eight to 12 months. Mission accomplished.
I’m currently developing a course for others to do the same.
3. What’s unladylike about you and what you do?
Growing up, everyone called me a “tomboy” because I refused to wear dresses, skateboarded and wore baseball hats backwards. I remember when I turned 10, I had a birthday party at my house with all my girlfriends, and I made them go outside to play catch with a football in the cul-de-sac.
To this day, my family still reminds me that they never thought I’d be a “straight” person because I did boyish things.
I still enjoy a lot of those unladylike activities today. I still cruise on my skateboard, prefer pants over skirts and wear baseball hats. The only difference now as an adult is that I curse more.
4. Which of your heroes or role models would you immortalize in bronze?
I would bronze Brene Brown to commemorate her work regarding vulnerability and empathy.
5. What was your feminist aha moment?
When I met Cristen and Caroline, actually. I never really looked into the feminist movement until I met them, and it really turned me on. My business has blown up since I met them, so I’d bronze them too. [Ed. Note: omgggggggg we had no idea!]
6. What’s bringing you joy right now — or at least keeping you sane?
I just got a golden doodle puppy named Mochi. She makes me smile and forget all the work that I have on my plate.
7. Aside from keys/wallet/phone, what do you never leave home without?
My head on my shoulders.
(and some Aquaphor chapstick).
8. How can unladies help you and/or your mission?
Sign up for my podcast newsletter, subscribe to the show on iTunes and share it with others.
Also, rate the show four to five stars. If you don’t like it, don’t rate it. 😀
More from Helen
Listen: Live and Earn
For financial planning and investment advice: Capital Benchmark Partners
Podcast and upcoming money classes: Made Modern Money
Hashtag it! #MadeModernMoney // #LiveAndEarn // #LiveAndEarnPodcast
More about women controlling their finances
Unladylike episode: How to have the Money Talk
It’s 2018. Why are women still giving their husbands control of the finances? (CNN Money)
Women need to take an active role in their financial lives (CNBC)
There’s an investing gap that costs women up to $1 million. Here’s how to fix it (Time Mone)
Behavioral economics show that women tend to make better investments than men (WaPo)
The divorce gap (The Atlantic)