Female Disruptors: Claire Mcpherson of J Wealth Academy On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Always invest in yourself! It’s something I constantly do and make sure that there is enough of it every year. Constantly learning and investing in your own mindset, knowledge, and health is something I do without fail. In my opinion, it’s the only way to grow and the only way I’ve been able to achieve anything in life. While I’m learning and growing the results keep getting better and better as I expand. If you keep investing in yourself in any of these areas you can’t help but improve and get better results in them!
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Claire Mcpherson.
Claire McPherson is a renowned serial entrepreneur and accomplished businesswoman who enjoys guiding youth towards obtaining new levels of financial independence. As the co-founder of J Wealth Academy, Claire has a rich history of entrepreneurship and translating business visions into tangible realities and has built a strong reputation for positioning young minds to spearhead the wealth-building game.
Uniquely growing up in carnival life and traveling from show to show, Claire learned early on the innate value of having a strong work ethic and learning small business hustle as a child. She worked as soon as she could stand up This became the catalyst for Claire to ditch school at age 17 to work as a CEO’s personal assistant and later start her own fashion label & fashion agency at age 23. Claire then branched into the hospitality field in 2013 by launching CPM Online Marketing. Two years later, Claire’s husband Andre joined the company straight after their honeymoon, where the two tagged teamed to wildly scale it to over 200+ cafes and restaurants over the next 8 years, which they still run today as Sydney’s leading hospitality marketing agency.
Claire has a genuine ardency for empowering teens and young adults with in-depth financial/money management insights and every effort that she does revolves around one cornerstone notion — her passion for seeing others succeed financially and achieve freedom in their lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Although we had been in business together before, my husband and I decided on a vacation one year that we were not having children, after being together for 12 years. We asked ourselves honestly what the main thing we would miss out on if we didn’t have children and the answer was Legacy. We wanted to be able to leave a legacy behind after we leave this earth that would help future generations after us.
We felt that the biggest contribution we could give is to help young people with money skills and securing a life of freedom and choice at an early age. It’s the exact knowledge that we would have wanted to give our own children. We knew through our own experiences that learning about money, investing and personal finance is important to every young person to know about but for some reason wasn’t taught to people when they are growing up from their schools and sometimes parents or colleges.
We knew if we had children we would be teaching them everything we knew ourselves to live a life of financial stability and freedom and this is how we came up with this idea for J Wealth Academy.
We wanted to teach young adults and teenagers all around the world this information just like we would teach our own children as they were entering the real world. We also wanted to make it in a fun and educational way through video learning just like watching Netflix episodes so it’s entertaining, easy to understand, and in a format that appeals to a younger generation.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Although the information in the our courses are classic financial principles that have been outlined in many classic books we are presenting them in a way that is very much for the current climate in 2022, via video learning and in a whole picture as opposed to many other courses and books that solely focuses on either the mindset side of wealth or the skill side of wealth.
We believe we are delivering to our students an opportunity to come to one place and learn all the vital information they need to know when it comes to money investing and personal finance in an easy to digest way. A lot of the time learning about money is a taboo conversation at homes, schools, and universities but we believe that personal finance education just should be the same way taught as brushing your teeth and making your bed when you’re growing up. These days with everyone being online all the time, young people are marketed to all the time and fall into the same classical traps to go out and buy all the latest items and get themselves into bad loans or credit card debt, rather than learning how to invest and save and budget for their future. There is so much noise in the market right now about money, especially after the pandemic lockdowns and we wanted to present information in an easy-to-digest way.
J Wealth Academy disrupts the market by delivering a product that teaches teenagers and young adults how to prepare for their financial future and in an easy and fun way to learn no matter what they want to do for a career choice. It is on the wave of the new E Learning industry which disrupting the traditional educational system of schools and colleges with traditional curriculums that are outdated in a very quick-moving world. The worldwide lockdowns over the last 2 years have been the tipping point for E Learning and now it is really exploding. It really helps to democratize education and information and get it to the sectors of society that might normally miss out on.
In the first iteration our company will just be delivering courses on financial skills via our video E learning courses but then as we progress this will evolve into gamification of the courses so that it’s even more entertaining and appeals to a wider audience. This will combine with gaming developments on the metaverse so that the educational material becomes a fully immersive experience and with a closed community for collaboration as well. We have an NFT range of characters in the JWA jungle that will eventually become avatar players in the game. The time is ripe with so many new tech developments to transform the education space.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We have definitely made a lot of mistakes along the way, just like all other business owners do when they first start out on their entrepreneurial journey.
The funniest or not so funny at the time was when we started using automated billing software for our marketing Agency and when we migrated our clients across to this system we forgot to flick a switch on and this particular client wasn’t billed his monthly fee for nearly a year! We only realized our mistake when he kindly brought it up to us after his accountant told him! This was 10’s thousands of dollars worth out of pocket for us. Luckily for us, this client was very honest and honorable but it could have really been bad for us and we definitely learned alot from this mistake. We are definitely much better at our billing now and at cross-checking our numbers, it’s so easy to drop that ball when you are busy with everything else in the business!
I believe mistakes are part of the journey of building a business and I’m not scared of making mistakes because I believe in failing forward in life and constantly evolving and improving from them. All the businesses that have grown and done well have been through a process of how you learn from your mistakes and put better processes and systems around them. It’s very similar to training at the gym.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’ve had some great mentors with other great business peers that share ideas and advice with me freely but if I could pick out one that really inspired me early on it is Kim Kiyosaki, the wife of Robert Kiyosaki the founder of Rich Dad Poor Dad.
The best thing about this day and age is you can have mentors in your life that you’ve never met but can be inspired and taught through their books, podcasts, or even YouTube channels. Most of my greatest mentors have been via their podcasts or youtube speeches and books.
Kim was one of those and I heard her speak live as well as listen to many of her speeches and books. She has also written her own book called “Rich Woman” and I highly recommend it to any woman who wants to be inspired and lead by great example that Kim has done in her journey of life and investing.
What is also personally inspiring about Kim is that she built up a business empire hand in hand with her husband Robert, where their beautiful marriage and the business partnership worked hand in hand. It’s exactly what Im doing with my husband right now, building our businesses together and so is a really inspirational role model for my business and personal life. There are a few husband and wife business teams but hers was one that really inspired me.
Personally, I love how Kim and Robert have dedicated their lives to helping others in their journey by teaching people how to be financially free and independent. They also decided not to have children but leave an ongoing legacy and It’s also what inspired us to start JWA. Their journey is what my husband Andre and I hope to do with our journey with JWA and we would love to take up the torch to keep bringing financial literacy and money skills to the young generation!
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I feel that being disruptive is only good in an industry if it does something to make a positive change in that industry and not just being discursive for diruptives sake. So just like we talked about in the question about mistakes, it’s only good if you learn and improve from it and the same goes for disruption. Say for example if you bring out a new app like AirBnb, although not perfect it really opened up the way people traveled as well as let people use under utlised assets like spare rooms and holiday homes and incomes for owners. I see this as a definite case of disrupting the travel industry for the better. As for a not-so-positive case for disruption, It’s much harder as I feel disruption generally brings out a positive outcome eventually but if done rapidly and without thought, can hurt a lot of people in the meantime. An example would be Uber, which in the end is a great app and service but at the start caused massive disruption to the taxi industry and livelihoods of those systems. It was an industry that needed description and improvement but it did create a lot of conflict and chaos in the meantime.
We feel that what we are doing by disrupting in the education space with JWA is less about breaking down an old system but rather complementing it and giving young people more choice, especially to those that can’t afford an expensive college or school or are in locations that don’t have access to this type of information. We are riding on the back of the E learning wave that is growing exponentially and already disrupting the education space.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
I believe the best advice I have been given along my business journey and also in life is the powerful words of NEVER GIVE UP!
I’ve had so many setbacks and challenges in my business career, and I honestly have had many moments where I just felt like giving up but I had those strong powerful words always in my mind saying NEVER GIVE UP.
Those words are very powerful for me and they have got me through my dark days when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore. There are always so many challenges in business, the odds are really against you but if you use this mantra, then you’ll never fail. Throwing in the towel sometimes can be tempting but I always use those words to keep going with faith driving me on to make the venture or project a success.
I will keep those words with me for the rest of my life, “if you don’t give up you will never fail, you only fail when you give up”
The next one would be, always Invest a portion of your income. When you are growing your business and as more revenue comes into it, I was told to always invest a portion of your income. We did this even though it was tempting to keep feeding the growing business as our social media business was growing. Then when faced with an immediate shutdown of revenue during the first lockdown our having investments independent of the business really gave us a safety net.
The third piece of advice is : Always invest in yourself! It’s something I constantly do and make sure that there is enough of it every year. Constantly learning and investing in your own mindset, knowledge, and health is something I do without fail. In my opinion, it’s the only way to grow and the only way I’ve been able to achieve anything in life. While I’m learning and growing the results keep getting better and better as I expand. If you keep investing in yourself in any of these areas you can’t help but improve and get better results in them!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Personally I’m only just getting started right now with my career, even though I have been hustling and working since my early teens. There is a huge way to go for our businesses and investment portfolio.
Although we are still running our social media company, property portfolio, and property developments, JWA will be the main focus and business project that we want to run for the next few decades as it is our legacy company and what we want to leave for the world. We wanted a company that was scalable, online and could leave a good lasting legacy and that is what we want to turn JWA into.
I believe that whenever there is a new goal or step taken in this company it takes me one step closer to being able to change someone’s life or financial future and how empowering is that?
We recently launched JWA and personally, I love the “saying if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you have launched too late! So we know what we have launched is only a tiny step towards where we see the company going. We will keep working on this company for a long time, with plans to build it out to a global academy, tied in with online gaming and the metaverse. The world of education is disrupting and changing at an exponential pace and we are really excited to play a part in it. We will continue to improve and create better content and information to be learned by our students and eventually be able to provide a fully immersive learning environment that can be accessed by young people from around the world.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Throughout history and for many years and probably centuries to come women will always face the same challenges of not being taken serious as strong CEO or founders of successful companies, but I’m proud to see that a lot of moving and shaking is happening in the industry where women are starting to be taken seriously but for some reason it’s still a challenge for most founders who are women to be taken seriously or believe that they are confident and strong enough to lead a successful company.
I went to an international women’s Day breakfast event and one of the female speakers was explaining how she just had launched a company and some of the investors that she was pitching at said we would invest in your company if you had a male General Manager!
Every woman in that room was completely blown away by that comment and everyone in that room was a successful E commerce business founder. She proudly enough went on to hire a female GM and is now a very successful e-commerce company. Although the business landscape is slowly changing it shows that there are so many preconceived ideas that women are still not able to be as good in business as men, this in itself is the major hurdle.
Access to capital is still a very male dominated space and this is one of the bottlenecks for more women disruptors. I can see this space slowly changing but perceptions need to change.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
As I mentioned above in one of my other answers, the book the rich woman by Kim Kiyosaki also her husband‘s book Robert Kim Kiyosaki, Rich dad poor dad are two very powerful books that have changed my way of thinking and has taken me on the journey with my husband to create JWA.
What is my favorite podcast that I listen to on a regular basis is the podcast by Vishen Lakhiani the founder of mindvalley a massive E Learning academy that we aspire to be.
I love listening to Vishen Lakhiani’s different podcast interviews because he always has so many diverse interesting people on there, but the best in their fields. He interviews people that are successful in their life in business, spirituality, health and all aspects of life that make you feel complete and successful. I find every time I come across one of his interviews it really makes a huge impact in my beliefs and also my strategies on moving forward with my business spirituality and also how to handle all aspects of being a founder and CEO myself, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. He blends business with spirituality and a bigger purpose so for me, it’s such a well-rounded podcast.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I guess a movement that I would love to create and pass on to others is to always believe and go after what you want in life and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise no matter where you came from. I’d love to instill that movement to show that you can live a fulfilled life and achieve what you want if you just go for it and never give up on it.
Personally, I have come from a very interesting and I guess in some way challenging upbringing, personally, I didn’t get to finish high school. I actually was homeschooled for most of my young childhood and I even didn’t get to learn to read and write properly until later on in life when I pretty much forced myself to learn but I always had a dream and always knew that if I worked hard enough I could achieve whatever I wanted and I believe mastering money is the key to making me feel free and give me the choices that I want in life.
Money is what makes the world go around and if you know how to control money and make money work for you you have complete control and freedom for your future life and to be able to look after the loved ones that you care about.
So my biggest advice and movement for any woman in business and in life is to know your numbers and learn about money and finance, both in your life and business, it gives you complete control and makes you feel empowered.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life quote is “NEVER GIVE UP.”
It’s one I follow every day especially in the entrepreneurial world where you are tested every day on how strong your mission and purpose is and how much faith you have in yourself.
If you don’t give up, you will always win, maybe not at first, maybe not for a while but at some stage if you don’t give up you will succeed.
There have been times where both my husband and I have been knocked down, even a time 8 years ago when we nearly lost everything but we both vowed to never give up and came back from the brink much stronger and wiser and led to the creation of our first business together. There are challenges every day in the business including the pandemic where our hospitality marketing agency business, which provides our main cash flow dropped 70% revenue overnight and we had to scramble and hustle to get through. The mantra through all of those tough times was “ never Give up”. I have faith that I will always find a way through and somehow we always do!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this