BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page played it safe with her finances so she could take bold risks when starting her business.

Elisa Camahort Page Instagram WHITE BORDER.png

Elisa Camahort Page and her BlogHer co-founders went two years without paying themselves a salary. She had the financial foundation to stick with the venture for that long thanks to conservative money habits she established well before deciding to be an entrepreneur. 


In Elisa's money story you will learn:

  • How seeing her friends stuck in their jobs because of their mortgages helped Elisa to make a better decision on where to live

  • The reason she decided to quit her job

  • How budgeting and saving her money helped to put her into a position to pursue her dreams

  • How she was able to not take a salary for herself for two years after starting her business

  • The importance of really thinking about what she wanted to spend her money on

  • Why she felt like it was important to spend money on experiences rather than things

In Elisa’s money lesson you will learn:

  • Money doesn't buy happiness but it does buy you freedom

In Elisa's everyday money tip you will learn:

  • Why she feels like having just one mentor isn't enough

  • The importance that one of her mentors had on her by letting her sit in on calls and meetings that her position didn't require her to be there for

In My Take you will learn:

  • Ask your boss if you can be in the room of meetings you may not be officially invited to join

  • Prepare for the long term even if you don’t have any big picture goals

Check out Elisa's website -

www.elisacp.com

Follow Elisa!


Transcription

Elisa Camahort:
We didn't take a salary for two years, so I had put myself in a position to really pursue my dreams.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup. With me, certified financial planner, Bobbi Rebell, author of How to Be a Financial Grownup. You know what? Being a grownup is really hard, especially when it comes to money. But it's okay. We're gonna get there together. I'm gonna bring you one money story from a financial grownup, one lesson, and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
That was Women's Blogging Network BlogHer co-founder, Elisa Camahort Page, talking about the early days of that company. How many of us could go two full years without any cash coming in? Wow. Hello, Financial Grownup friends. Welcome to our newest listeners, and thank you for checking out the podcast. We keep shows to about 15 minutes because you're busy, but feel free to stack a few episodes together if you have a little more time.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right. Now to our inspiring guest. Elisa Camahort Page made a career switch to be part of the Silicon Valley boom, and was rising through the ranks. She saw a lot of big spenders there, but as you will hear, she escaped many of the pitfalls of her dot com peers. And it is only because of that, because of living below her means, that she was able to create her own company after the bust, global women's media empire BlogHer, which won countless accolades, including being named among the most powerful women entrepreneurs by Fortune, the most powerful people in new media by Forbes, and the most influential women in technology by Fast Company. By the way, she also won the Vanguard Award by Mom 2.0 summit, Iris Award. And for anyone that's gonna be down in Austin for Mom 2.0 this year in April, please come say hello. I will be down there as a speaker, and I'm very much looking forward to that.

Bobbi Rebell:
Back to Elisa. She later sold the company to SheKnows Media, and recently embarked on a career as a consultant, speaker, and author. Her book is Roadmap for Revolutionaries. Here is Elisa Camahort Page.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Elisa Camahort Page. You're a financial grownup. Welcome to the podcast.

Elisa Camahort:
Thank you so much for having me, Bobbi.

Bobbi Rebell:
Many people know you as the founder of BlogHer, which set all kinds of high standards for women's organizations and blogging. You were named as a social media legend, by the way, by the C Suite Network, top women in media by Folio. I could go on and on. And also, by the way, BlogHer, you guys were named most powerful women entrepreneurs by Fortune. You sold that to SheKnows Media, and stayed with the company for a little bit, but now you are a consultant and a speaker. You are also the author of the book Roadmap for Revolutionaries. So, welcome.

Elisa Camahort:
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to talk today.

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, you started your journey back in the late '90s in Silicon Valley. At that time, you made a critical decision that we're gonna talk about as your money story. Then we're gonna come back, by the way, and talk more about you. But I want to hear your money story, because it has to do with a conservative financial move that you made, at a time when the dot com boom was really becoming a lifestyle, and something that was really consuming everyone around you, but you took a different tactic. Tell us your money story, Elisa.

Elisa Camahort:
Well, as I started going up the ladder and making more and more money, I did not spend like I was going up the ladder and making more and more money. I decided to really devote myself to my career at that point, because I had this goal. I wanted to buy a house or a condo. I just really focused on that. And sure enough I was able, by myself, to buy a condo. And what happened is, when the boom ended, and we started with the bust, and it started spiraling down ... And it was kind of a long, slow, uncomfortable spiral down ... I had a lot of friends who were really married to their mortgage, and they were really stuck. Because when times are really great, and banks were willing to give you big loans, I stayed really conservative, and I got a place that was appropriate for me, someone living alone, and ultimately with a partner. I didn't go hog wild.

Elisa Camahort:
A lot of my friends, when the bust happened, they were married to jobs that they felt miserable in, because they had this big mortgage. Whereas I, I had sort of the opposite experience. Which is in 2003, the nadir of the bust, and my company was going through like its eighth layoff in two years, and I thought, "It's gotta be me. Like, I have got to be laid off at this point. There is hardly anyone left."

Elisa Camahort:
Friday came and went, and layoffs happened, and I didn't get laid off. I sat there, and I spent all weekend being depressed, thinking, "Oh my God. I have to go back. It's gonna be such a graveyard. It's gonna be so much more work, and no more people to do it. I have to go back. That's so sad." And then I had this little voice in my head that said, "Why? Why do you have to go back?" Because I had been smart. I had bought my condo, and then I had gone right back into conserving and hoarding my money. I had about two years' worth of take home pay in the bank at that point, and so I walked in on Monday and said, "How do I get on the list?"

Elisa Camahort:
The other thing that allowed me to do, besides having my walk away money, was a year later, when I met my co-founders of BlogHer, and we decided to go after that, we didn't take a salary for two years. So, I had put myself in a position to really pursue my dreams. One dream was the condo. One dream was the company. But I really believe that you should think about your spending and saving now, like you have that big idea you want to pursue, even if you don't know what it is. Just think about when it hits you, being ready.

Bobbi Rebell:
It's really about keeping your overhead low, so you have that financial flexibility.

Elisa Camahort:
Yeah. Absolutely. I had a lot of options, because I maybe wasn't as ... I wasn't as high spending, and wasn't going out and doing some of the things that looked kind of fun, and they would have been fun. I just found other ways, and really focused on wanting to have that cushion for myself, because who knows what I would want to do next?

Bobbi Rebell:
So, give me an example. Do you remember any times when other people were doing things that you really couldn't do because you wanted to keep that overhead low, and have this giant cushion? I mean, two years, when you're so young, is a lot of financial runway there.

Elisa Camahort:
I think a lot of it was about, what do I spend my money on? And I presaged the millennials, because I tended to spend my money on getting together with friends, experiences. You know, I would go out to eat more than I would buy things. I wasn't necessarily out there getting that upgraded bag, or lots of clothes. And certainly I still shop. I have always liked shopping. Oh, Ann Taylor Loft. That's the perfect store for me, you know? That's just not where my interests lied, to want to spend a lot of money.

Elisa Camahort:
The other thing is, I do travel more now than I used to. I think it's good. Travel is obviously super expanding for your mind and your heart and your soul, and so I do think travel is important. That has been sort of a slow increase, in investing in those experiences. But until that point, most of it was experiences that were pretty moderately priced and pretty close to home, and pretty involving friends, as well. Which I think was another reason that made me not miss the stuff I wasn't acquiring, because what I was doing was sort of enriching my circle and my network and my friendships.

Bobbi Rebell:
And you were busy. So, what is the takeaway for our listeners here?

Elisa Camahort:
Well, the takeaway is that money doesn't buy happiness, up to a certain point. I mean, yes. Once you have your basic needs met, you're happier. But, money doesn't buy happiness. What it buys you is freedom, and it buys you the freedom to do a lot more than you might be thinking about. And I don't know that when I was saving money to buy a house, I was thinking about saving money to start a company. Luckily, that came in handy for me. So, money doesn't buy you happiness, but it does buy you freedom.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right. Let's move to your everyday money tip, which has to do with the value of mentoring, and how that translates into financial success in the long run. I mean, it really goes to what you were saying before. You talk about playing the long game, even if you don't know what the long game is yet. That's kind of what you were just getting at, is have the money even before you figure out what you need it for. Because you didn't envision BlogHer when you were buying a house that was a lot less than what you could afford.

Elisa Camahort:
I learned, when I first got into tech, that first of all, I had multiple mentors. I didn't loo for one person to be the be-all end-all mentor. I had one guy who mentored me around technology issues. I had one guy who mentored me around business issues. And the one key thing he did for me, that really was a lesson, was that he let me sit in on calls and meetings that my position didn't require me to be there. He just sort of identified me as his protégé, and let me sit in. And all I did in most of those meetings and calls was listen, but I heard how he established relationships. I heard how he negotiated. I heard how those two things worked together, to get him what he wanted.

Elisa Camahort:
You know, a lot of people think about ... When they think about negotiation, they think about what they're gonna say, how they're gonna make their case, and it's very kind of me-focused. I really prefer to do a lot more listening, because it's only when you understand what core thing the person you're negotiating with, the core thing they really want, that's the way that you can find your way to having a mutually beneficial outcome to the negotiation. And I think that works on both sides of the hiring process, both sides of the negotiating and advancement process, and both sides of negotiating partnerships, and even M&A deals. So, I tend to be ... I'm kind of talkative in real life, like outside of a negotiation. But I listen more than I talk, so that I can figure out how to get to that core thing my other person across the table really wants. And then, giving me what I want is so much easier.

Bobbi Rebell:
Right. The information helps you get to the point where you know what they need to hear to make it happen, whatever your goal is.

Elisa Camahort:
Yeah. If you're more busy talking than listening in any negotiation, you're actually not gonna come out, I don't think, with the better end of the deal.

Bobbi Rebell:
Very well said, Elisa. All right. Let's talk about you, because you have now left your baby, BlogHer, which you had sold, and you are making a big impact in the world with your speaking and your book. Tell us more about what's going on with you.

Elisa Camahort:
Yeah, absolutely. I stayed after the acquisition for almost three years, but then it really was time to go. Part of it was because I wanted to work on some other projects, including my book, Roadmap for Revolutionaries, which is all about how we can all be better every day activists, and how we can be more effective, because we're all busy. I used to hate the term work-life balance, because I felt like no one ever asked men about it. But now I like the term work-life-activism balance, because I like to think about how can you integrate, into an already really busy life, how you want to make a difference in the world. The things you want to activate around, the things you're most passionate about. Finding a space for that in your life, I think makes us so much happier, because i think happiness is really tied to how well we live to our own value system, and how much we're able to do that.

Bobbi Rebell:
So true. All right. Where can everyone find out more about you, and where they can see you? Because you're very busy on the speaker circuit.

Elisa Camahort:
Yes. Well, my website is ElisaCP.com, and there is a tab there for all my speaking appearances. There's a tab there about my book, and about articles I write and the writing I'm doing. And then, I'm on the interwebs. Twitter @ElisaC, and Instagram ElisaCP, and most of my posts on Facebook are public. Just search my name.

Bobbi Rebell:
Awesome. Thank you so much.

Elisa Camahort:
Thank you, Bobbi.

Bobbi Rebell:
So much great stuff. Here we go. Financial grownup tip number one: Ask your boss if you can be in the room of meetings you may not officially be invited to join. It's okay to just say, "I want to learn from you. I want to observe." Think of it like auditing a class in school. Even if you don't have a specific business purpose there, ask if you can just be in the room, as I said. And then, just do that. Listen. Pay attention. Be a little invisible. I know there's a lot of talk about sitting at the table, speaking up, participating, and that's all good when you have a role at the meeting. But if you're there to observe, consider that a privilege, and make sure it doesn't take away from the work that you need to get done otherwise.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial grownup tip number two: Prepare for the long term, even if you don't have any big picture goals yet. Elisa wasn't saving to start a business. She did not see that in her future. But when opportunity presented itself, she had the money to go two years without income to make it happen, and it paid off.

Bobbi Rebell:
So, my friends, what is the best lesson you have learned from a mentor? I would love to hear from you. DM me on Instagram at BobbiRebell1, on Twitter @BobbiRebell, and you can email at hello@FinancialGrownup.com. And if you find value in this show, please take the time to think of a friend that might also enjoy it, and help us grow by encouraging them to check it out and subscribe. Big thanks to Elisa Camahort Page for her words of wisdom, a great story, and helping us all get one step closer to being financial grownups.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup with Bobbi Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Stewart, and is a BRK Media production.