Young Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Tali Goldman and Liz Pavel of Like a Girl Academy Decided To Change Our World

Penny Bauder
Dec 18, 2020 · 13 min read

Being an entrepreneur is a full time job.
This might be especially true because we are both crazy overachievers, but when it comes to working on your passion, there is always something to work on, fix, update, plan, schedule, you name it!! The work doesn’t end, and instead becomes a part of your life, but if you learn to balance it well it adds so much meaning and excitement to your life.

As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tali Goldman and Liz Pavel.

Tali Goldman and Liz Pavel are the founders of Like a Girl Academy, a free online platform dedicated to engaging and empowering the next generation of independent thinkers. Tali and Liz are both Honors business students at the Sy Syms School of Business in NYC studying Finance and Computer Science. While originally from New Jersey, Tali and Liz have quickly adjusted to the fast pace of NYC, running Like a Girl Academy while also juggling 7 classes, internships, part time jobs, and other extra curricular.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

We both grew up in small, tight knit Jewish communities in New Jersey. Tali grew up with 4 siblings, and Liz has 2 sisters, so family was always a huge part of our lives. Although we didn’t meet until our freshman year of college, we grew up really similarly. Our parents both placed a huge emphasis on working hard, believing in ourselves and knowing that we’re never too young to make an impact.

You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

As college students we were in a unique position; we were old enough to appreciate the value of financial literacy, but felt too young to fully comprehend the vast financial world. We wanted someone who was in our shoes just a few years ago who could walk us through the process. Simply put, we were looking for a big sister to just show us the ropes, someone who could break concepts down and help us understand them. After a lot of research not only did we realize a platform like this does not exist, but we also noticed that this gap in knowledge stemmed far beyond ourselves.

Like a Girl Academy was created to be the big sisters you wish you had, to strip finance of all of its technicalities and empower you to break down the walls that so many have put up. By creating engaging and educational content that’s also relatable and fun, we hope to close this gap in knowledge. Our goal is to create a world where no one is intimidated by financial terms that are thrown around, a world where taking the first step is empowering, not overwhelming. Together we can start the conversation about money and foster a community of next generation independent thinkers.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Tali — The passion to close these gaps in knowledge started really slowly. From March to May last year, I began thinking about how little I knew about my own finances. I would make $100 babysitting, hand it over to my parents, and never see the money again or know where it went. I opened up a credit card when I turned 21, but didn’t know how to pay my bill. I just felt so clueless when it came to this area of my life and knew I wasn’t alone.

Liz — Like Tali, at first I felt alone. As a double major in Finance and Accounting, I was utterly embarrassed at my lack of knowledge in personal finance. I vividly remember joining a club on campus to help get me started, and sitting through the introductory meeting feeling completely lost. What were these terms? What do these acronyms stand for? I just sat there thinking I would never understand. I thought I was the only one, but looking around the room there were so many blank stares. I knew I had to do something about it.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Liz — When COVID hit, my community got hit pretty hard. I would watch the news and read updates on how so many heads of households were dying, leaving their families behind. I had a conversation with my Mom about it. She confessed to me that “If g-d forbid anything happened to Daddy, I have no idea how to pay the bills, do the taxes or any of that finance stuff…”. My mouth dropped, I was shocked she was okay with that, and knew I never would be. My next call was to Tali Goldman.

Tali — At the same time, I was researching personal finance and learning more and more. One day, I learned about the magic of a Roth IRA and I literally could not believe that no one ever told me about them. I was on the phone with Liz and was like “That’s it. We need to tell everyone we know about Roth IRA’S!!!”

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

The first, and arguably most important step we took was evaluating our strengths and weaknesses. We have very different personalities, skill sets, ways of thinking and learning styles. Together we cover a lot of ground. Tali is organized, passionate, knowledgeable and has the incredible ability to see the full picture, while Liz is relatable, creative, had a vision and understood the importance of a strong social media presence. While it’s easy to get caught up in what we had, and what we’re good at, we took a second to ask ourselves what we lacked. That’s when we got introduced to our brilliant video editor Rafi Kapitanker and extremely talented web designer Daniella Friedman. Without them we’d be nowhere!

Another key part was speaking to anyone and everyone who would listen. We were constantly looking for feedback and for our audiences input. We got on the phone with family members, professors, friends and even our Dean, gaining more insight with each call. We knew at our early stage it was imperative to stay open minded and not take offense to any advice or feedback given. This was an emotional step more than a physical one, but it was just as important.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

We both grew up pretty sheltered and only knew what was around us, we like to call it “the bubble”. Like a Girl Academy has allowed us to interact with people from all over the world. We have done Instagram lives with other content creators in Australia, collaborated with organizations from India and spoken to people from literally all over the world. We share our ideas, cultures and perspectives, gaining tremendous value from each conversation and exposing ourselves to a world we had never encountered before.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Tali — haha, there are so many!! Take a look at any of our beginning videos to see how awkward we were! We had no idea how to talk to a camera, how to sit, how far away to film, even how our mics worked so our audio was always a mess.

Liz — Like so many others, my family got a corona dog. One of our biggest mistakes was taking a break from filming, leaving our mics on my couch and coming back to see them all chewed up and slimy. As you can imagine our budget was close to zero, everything was coming out of our pockets, so this was quite the blow…But regardless of how big or small the mistake, Tali and I were happy to make them. Our mentality was to continuously look back at ourselves and say, ‘“Wow I can’t believe how dumb we were! I can’t believe we did this or didn’t know that”. This way we would always be growing and always be learning.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Tali — Our biggest cheerleaders from day 1 have been our parents — I don’t think we would be anywhere without them. I came to my mom that first day Liz and I started talking about LAGA, and I was so nervous, I think I just wanted someone to talk me out of it. I was like “Mom, I have an insane idea” and she just sat down and listened to me for hours, helping me think through the idea and make it a reality. She’s a CFP, so she taught me everything I know about personal finance, helped script our beginning videos and supported us through every cringey video we put out.

Liz — It’s no coincidence we launched a startup right after finishing our Kukin Honors Entrepreneurial Leadership class with Professor Laizer Kornwasser. Our semester project was to start something that would change the world, make a difference, do something that could impact as many people as possible. While Tali and I were in seperate groups, we were both amazed at how much we can actually accomplish, how students like us can truly make a difference. Once Tali and I started brainstorming, our first call was to our Professor. He was incredible, giving us his time on the weekends, hopping on the phone and offering us advice and guidance as well as connecting us with contacts in his vast network. I remember in the early stages of recording, we kept on re-recording because we wanted it to be perfect. We got on a call with Professor Kornwasser and he was like “guys you’re never gonna launch if you try to make it perfect. Fail fast and then pivot strong”. Knowing he was talking to the two biggest overachievers, he gave us one of the best pieces of advice we were ever given.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

The best part of this is hearing from people who have been inspired by our videos and are taking action in their own life. We love getting instagram DMs and answering questions or giving advice on other topics a video hasn’t yet covered.

We had a fellow college student reach out to us over the summer. She had watched all of our videos and had a bunch of follow up questions about investing. We helped her open up her first accounts and place her first trade. 3 months later, she still reaches out every few weeks to discuss how her investments are doing, what she’s been learning, and her goals. It’s been incredible fostering relationships with girls and seeing them take control of their finances and succeed!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Tali — We began Like a Girl Academy because even as business students, we were never taught these fundamentals in school. Financial literacy should be a mandatory class in all high schools so students develop a healthy money mindset early on and develop good habits from the outset.

Liz — Piggy backing off of that, society has deemed it acceptable for a woman to rely on a man to take care of the finances in the house. Personal finance is personal, we all are responsible for our own credit score, our own debt and most importantly our own financial literacy. We must address the fact that there is both a gender and knowledge gap and work together to bridge this gap.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You will ALWAYS be improving.
    When we first started Like a Girl Academy, we thought it would be a summer project. We planned to build the site, film all the videos over the summer, and sit back and relax fall semester. So we finished our first course, launched our site, looked at each other and was like “So.. do you want to redo everything as much as I do?”.
  2. It’s going to take a lot of time, nothing great happens overnight.
    Like we said, we thought this would be a summer project. We honestly thought that after 3 months, we would have succeeded in closing the gap of knowledge in personal finance, which sounds ridiculous to say, but I guess we’re nothing if not optimists! In this age of technology, when everything is so quick and accessible, we were used to fast results and it was definitely an adjustment realizing this was going to take time.
  3. Being an entrepreneur is a full time job.
    This might be especially true because we are both crazy overachievers, but when it comes to working on your passion, there is always something to work on, fix, update, plan, schedule, you name it!! The work doesn’t end, and instead becomes a part of your life, but if you learn to balance it well it adds so much meaning and excitement to your life.
  4. Don’t care about what others think of you!
    Tali — This one was really hard for me to learn. I’m a really private person and had never put myself out there like this before, and it was really hard for me! I hated going out to events and having everyone come up to me and say “OMG, I just watched your new video!”.
    Liz — Meanwhile I kept on saying, “literally who cares!?” I knew from the start that making videos would mean having people watch them, and I was okay with that. I was confident in our mission and didn’t care what others thought. I knew some of my friends would get it, and that others would make fun of it, but I didn’t let it get to me. I knew that those who were making fun just didn’t get how serious the problem was and that motivated me even more to create content that would help them understand the significance of having this knowledge in their life.
  5. Get ready to make your co-founder your sister.
    Liz — We were best friends who had no idea what starting a business together would mean. We very quickly realized the difference between a friendship and a business partnership and had to find a balance. Starting Like a Girl Academy took our relationship to the next level; We saw each other at our best, but also at our worst. We laughed like best friends, but bickered like sisters. One time I was having a bad day, I was in the absolute worst mood and with Tali getting under my skin I totally lost it. It was bad — we walked on eggshells around each other for a week.
    Tali — After a week, Liz confronted me and was like “if this is going to work, we need to communicate and be really honest with each other”. We talked it out for hours, and finally got to the root of the problem. That conversation changed everything. We both agreed we still wanted to be best friends, but we had to understand our relationship had changed. After that, we understood each other so much better and realized honest and open communication is the key to being co-founders while also staying best friends.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Tali — I used to think starting something meant there was no going back, that I was defining my life’s mission right there and then and had to succeed. But it doesn’t. Find something you’re passionate about, think of an idea to fix it and do it. The worst thing that can happen is you fail fast, learn a ton, and try again.

Liz — “Every expert was once a beginner”. That’s a quote that hung over the desk of a middle school teacher of mine and has been ingrained in my mind ever since. As kids and even as adults we look up to and admire those who are successful and who have created a name for themselves. We often think of their success and glorify it, putting them on a pedestal and in a different category then ourselves. But they too are just like us, they too were once beginners, once just your average human in this world. The reason they are where they are today is because they had the courage, the strength and the passion to work through the trial and tribulation and to create something grand, to be something amazing, to become that expert. I say to all those too scared, to all those who think they are not good enough, that they don’t have what it takes, that every expert was once a beginner.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

We would LOVE to have brunch with Danielle Bernstein. Danielle is a huge role model for us, and we really connect with her story and the brand that she has cultivated. Like us, she started her account as a passion project, as just a way of showcasing her outfits. Danielle was super passionate about fashion and had a unique style that she wanted to share with the world. However, she soared far beyond fashion, conquering and creating so much more. Today her lifestyle brand fosters a community that encourages giving back, positivity and confidence. Danielle listens to her fans, audience and consumers, tailoring her content and products to fit them both physically and emotionally. As a result of her constant care and relatability, her brand has grown tremendously. We align with so many of Danielle’s values and love how she’s evolved her company to be about her community, not just herself.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow us on Youtube at Like a Girl Academy, on insta @likeagirlacademy or on our new website coming soon ! We can’t wait for you to join our community and hear your feedback!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Penny Bauder

Written by

Environmental scientist-turned-entrepreneur, Founder of Green Kid Crafts

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.