Season 2, Episode 39

Transforming Lives

with

Charlie Johnson Stoever

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Today’s Guest

 

 

In today’s episode I am speaking Charlie Johnson Stoever.

 

Charlie is a nonbinary Mexican-American former stock broker, money coach and Social Impact MBA student at the Heller School and is working and studying remotely in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

They help mostly lgbt & bipoc folks points hack, invest, & build wealth so that they can thrive in the American Capitalistic System (or better, in their opinion, escape it!)

If you love the show please leave a rating or a review here.

If you have a comment or question please reach out to me at malini@malinisarma.com or on Instagram @gladiatrixpodcast.

 

 

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Charlie Johnson Stoever

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Malini Sarma 0:02

Hey, Charlie, thank you so much for joining my podcast today. I'm really excited for and we audience to listen to your story, because I think a lot of people are going to learn a lot of stuff and take away a lot of things from from this episode.

Charlie 0:18

Yeah, thank you for having me Malini. I hope people learn something today.

Malini Sarma 0:23

Oh, I'm sure they will. So I'm really excited because you said you were born in Mexico, but you've lived in the US for pretty much you know, your whole life. And and now you're you went back, you're currently back in Mexico. So tell me a little bit about how you know you experienced growing up and family and siblings and would you want to do when you grew up?

Charlie 0:43

Yeah. So I was born in 1990. And on to a mixed class family. So my dad was from like, middle class. Well, white Mexican family because his dad was born in in the States, and then went to fight in World War Two and then ended up finding another white person. She was from Holland, I think, and they just had a bunch of white babies. And so my dad is like a blue eyed white man, but Mexican citizen, not American at all. So I was born in what I know where he grew up, and my mom is Mexican, but she's half German, too. So her name is Blanca Engebord Stoever. So a lot of like whiteness going on all up in Mexico. There's a lot of German immigrants. So whenever people would say you don't look Mexican, I'm like, Yeah, I do. When I go there. I'm like, Oh, yeah. The only white Mexican. Wow, I

Malini Sarma 1:41

you know what? I didn't know that. I really didn't know that. So that's interesting.

Charlie 1:46

Yeah, it's like how a lot of like, Europeans went to Argentina, everything like that. So Mexico, too. So yeah, we left in 1994. I remember that was the year Lion King was playing in the movie theater. So I was three years old. And my dad convinced my mom for us to move out there to just you know, American dream, better life, more money, opportunities, all of that. But we just overstayed our visas, and my dad never found a way for us to become legal. And he was just waiting for a government amnesty for the government to just forgive us. So he had money to buy a house and everything but we still live like we were poor people. It was just this weird mix of growing up poor yet still holding assets like a house, speculatively, Milan, and things like that, but it wouldn't work. And it was like the opposite. You go to Mexico and you sent or you leave Mexican send money back home. For us. It was the opposite. Like we left Mexico and my dad's family was sending money to him. It was just a very strange. So obviously, my relationship with money was very screwed up. Growing up. Growing up, we would speak Spanish in the house, but really not learn a lot about our culture moved to Washington State in a very small white conservative, Christian town. I didn't meet a Muslim person or a Jewish person until I went to Wellesley for undergrad so very sheltered. I think my dad just wanted us to grow up and be like white people to not mix with other people. So in that sense, it was not the best place to grow up. But I feel like I definitely emerged out of that. And once I left and went to college, I haven't looked back. That's basically why I want to travel. Once I saw the world. I was like, Nope, I'm not going back to the little town. Wow. Wow.

Malini Sarma 3:35

Did your parents have so your dad do? Mom? Did they have aspirations? They want what they wanted you to become? You know, because you were surrounded by like, in a white neighborhood or whatever, you got to become like them? I mean, did they have like anything mapped out for you that say that, okay, this is what we want you to do? Or was pretty much, you know, figure it out. Just make sure that you make enough money. You're that kind of thing. How was it?

Charlie 3:57

Yeah, I was just a very vague, like, I felt like I could grow up to be whatever I could be. I was homeschooled as a kid. So I was very sheltered and socially awkward. It was just me and my brother, who's two years older than me and like our dog, and so I didn't really have friends growing up. But yeah, my mom was like, yeah, you can be whatever you want, as long as you go to college, just go to college is that in their eyes was like the key but my dad was like, ooh, they don't need to go to college life will work out for them because he was used to having those easy wealth transfers of money to him when he magically thought that that would happen to us, even though he wasn't working and his savings were dwindling. So it's just a very dreamy like state. He was in which I tried taking the good parts out of that, even though it was a really tough childhood growing up that way away from all of my family and I didn't become documented till I was 14 when my mom remarried. Republican alcoholic Trump supporter but I still felt like he cared about me more than my biological dad.

Malini Sarma 5:03

Yeah. So when you went to you, you did you know, you achieve your mom's dream of you wanting to go to college, you know, making sure that you went off to college. And so going to college, how did that change your athletic life.

Charlie 5:17

So I just went to Wellesley because they offered me the most financial aid. I tried staying in state. I did all those tours of the University of Washington and everything, but Wellesley offered me much more aid, they paid for my flight, to go out there and take a tour for like the spring and stay with students and I just loved how amazing it was to be a women's college. And so I just love being around so many women who weren't afraid to speak up because in high school, I was always the girl because back then, of course, identified as a girl, I didn't know what non binary was, or being trans even was, honestly, I was like, This is so cool. women's empowerment. High School, I get bullied, not bullied, but just made fun of for always speaking up and being excited to learn. But it was so cool in college to be around other women who were supporting each other. And, and studying abroad and going on internships in Europe, places I'd never ever thought I'd be so. And also like I said, I met people of other religions, because in my town religious diversity was what kind of Christian are you? Are you Mormon or Catholic or pescetarian. And then in college, it was so cool. Like, my roommate was from India. And I remember me going and being like, Oh, yeah, I'm American. I'm going to help her navigate America, and technology and all of these things. And then she ended up teaching me all these things. She said, Charlie, my Skype, and I was like, What Skype taught me a lot. And then her friend was from Bangladesh. And I didn't know where Bangladesh was, when I met her. She was wearing a job on the first day there. And she's like, I'm from Bangladesh. I was like, Okay, cool. Do you like chai tea lattes from Starbucks? I was exposed to when we finally got to Starbucks. Wow,

Malini Sarma 7:10

wow. I mean, college really opened up your entire, you know, you're in touch, it opened up your whole world. So how you are currently, like you are doing, educating the community about finance. And you know, you start doing business and everything. So how did how did that even start?

Charlie 7:35

It just felt like something I needed to do that was urgent because of COVID. But I'll take a step back. Wellesley, I thought, I just wanted to study to become a teacher, because growing up teachers, were the rich people in town, they had the two story houses, and they have time and benefits and all of these things. And I'm like, oh, being a teacher is a good job. And then I went to college and heard how people talked about teachers and realized, Oh, wait, teachers don't, they're underpaid. But then they're stressed. Oh, well, I'll do it. Anyway, I didn't sit here in San Antonio working in public in a public high school there. And then I came back to Boston and taught him a charter school and taught English and we get out. But I was always teaching subjects I wasn't interested in I love teaching, and encouraging people to pursue their dreams through education, because I was so lucky to get financial aid and become a US citizen at the moment where I needed it to happen. But I wasn't interested in English itself, or math or science, that was just what the need was, I felt like I got burnt out. And so I started tour guiding and teaching people about areas I would go and cross country trips take people on trips from New York City to LA, interpreting for them. And these are mostly people from Europe and Australia, who could afford to travel in the US. And we would still, like go camping because it's extremely expensive to, to travel in the US, right? And then people kept asking me how I could afford to travel in the offseason, I just backpacked in Latin America for six months on my own completely. And my friends asked me, Why haven't you run out of money yet? And I said, because I budget and I'm investing my money as well, too. And then I realized I should get paid to talk to people about this, because I keep giving people free money advice, and I like how they actually care. I don't have to convince them to care, like I did about math or science, right? everybody cares about money. Right? And

Malini Sarma 9:27

but how did you? How did you even when you were talking about you know, budgeting? I mean, so for you to even start thinking about that. How did you come up with it? I mean, did you have to go and ask somebody how to do that? Or was it just like your self preservation was like, You know what, I need to be able to do all these things. And I don't want to have to ask anybody for money. So I'm just gonna save all my stuff and I'm gonna do it. Are you like a naturally like, Wait, did you have to train yourself to do that? Or are you naturally like a saver?

Charlie 9:55

I just grew up that way with a scarcity mindset. It was never like life or death, but I'm always made us squeeze the juice out of every penny, he would take me grocery shopping. So I would just observe her shopping for items and always comparing the prices like the the unit price of things, not just the price, but like for every ounce, how much is that product? So I just thought it was intuitive. Like why wouldn't you find the cheapest thing quality isn't as important if you would go to like grocery outlet and the Aldi type places instead of Safeway unless there was a big sale or something like that. So I grew up with that scarcity mindset, though, there's not enough and just translated that to traveling because that's something I found value in. But yeah, after college, I lost family support slowly over time. And I yeah, and I didn't want to depend on anybody else. And also, I think in the back of my mind, I saw how much financial abuse was in my family. My dad controlled us all through money and through our legal status. So my budgeting and, and fixation on money, it was a response to my childhood, basically, and it still is, and now I feel like I'm transforming people's lives.

Malini Sarma 11:05

Hmm. So, So now, you. When you after you backpacked around, you know, Latin America for six months in, you were successful, you were successfully able to do that without going into debt or anything and people are asking you, is that when you started? Or do you first say, Okay, let me check it out and see if this is actually a viable business or did how did? How did so if somebody else was like, Okay, now I want to do which, you know, I want to do what you're doing. How? How did it? How did that all come about?

Charlie 11:36

Yeah. So when I was backpacking and Latin America, I would check my retirement accounts and thought it was so cool, not just retirement, but my brokerage accounts that are taxable. And I thought it was so cool that I was making money for not doing anything, just a passive source of income, which is how rich or middle class white people maintain and preserve and pass down their wealth in this country. And now I was starting to get a taste of that ease of preserving wealth and building wealth as opposed to being in debt, and feeling that sense of desperation that contributes to our class divide, like a lack of awareness and a lack of generational wealth. Well, though, I thanked a friend for helping me open a Roth IRA when I was 26. And a brokerage account at Schwab, Charles Schwab and DC when I had been living there, because I just realized it was urgent because all these side hustles I was working dog sitting blogging, going on bike tours, I was very underemployed, my degree didn't help me find a job in DC because everybody needed a Master's. So I was like, well, I need to open my own retirement because my family doesn't support me now. And they're definitely not when I'm retiring. I need to look out for myself. And so I thanked her for doing that. And I started asking her, should I get an MBA because I feel like I want to help other people help me. You did. And she said, Now just work for Schwab and be a financial advisor. They'll pay and train you to get your licenses and learn about stocks because I didn't know about stocks either. And now like she's a CPA, or CFP, one of those acronyms. Okay, cool. So she helped me get a job working at a call center in Indianapolis, Indiana, which was horrible as a trans queer Latinx person living there, but I stuck it out for a year and learned so much which I implement in my money coaching and my workshops every day. So that's that's established my business.

Malini Sarma 13:30

Well, that's pretty cool. So you were working for yourself? So were you doing it like, you know, doing a side hustle doing the minute my business while you were also working? What did you At what point did you like, okay, I am not going to be doing that. And I'm going to focus totally on my business,

Charlie 13:45

which I was working with them for a year just learning about stocks and trading. So I didn't have the confidence at all to start my own business. I also have felt imposter syndrome because people would look at me like I didn't belong there as a trans person, I'd get stared at when I use the bathroom. Yeah, and people would just be like, where Who are you? Why are you here? Where'd you come from? Not not outright. But you know, clearly you don't belong here. So that definitely maybe not confident enough to open my own business. But then once COVID was hitting and I had to go through my stock broker training as the market was crashing, I realized I'm still freaking out about the stock market, but in a good way, because stocks are cheap. Now I can finally buy so all of us were sitting in a room trying to consult people that were freaking about out about the stock market crash when the rest of us had been waiting for this to happen for 10 years because finally stocks were cheaper in cash on the side. So I realized this is not ethical. I can't sleep at night knowing I'm perpetuating this problem. I feel like I know something everyone else needs to know. This is messed up. So I applied for my social impact MBA program and got accepted got a full ride a break On dice, and then once I was leaving Schwab, I started like just like putting out feelers and doing like credit card points hacking money coaching one on one to my friends. And now it's grown into people that I don't know, one on one.

Malini Sarma 15:13

That is awesome. So now you do. How long has your business been in plays had been like six months or more? About a year.

Charlie 15:21

Six months. Yeah, I left Indianapolis in August. And I started my semester of grad school in August as well. But I was still just doing the money coaching on the side to see how it went was taking it too seriously. But now I'm automating things and I'm taking that side hustle course with Denise that I met you in, right. And I'm hiring cat del Carmen to be my business coach, I'm investing a lot in myself, because I got a full ride to school. So I'm able to spend all this money on on myself.

Malini Sarma 15:51

That is really awesome. So now are you are you doing your grad school while you're doing your business? Or are you put your grad school on home?

Charlie 16:00

Oh, no, I'm doing both at the same time, I had a two month long winter break, which was not a break at all. I was like, well, grad school kicked my butt the first semester, and I was busy. So I'm going to use every day to build my business. So glad I automated a lot of things started my own calendly and signed up for that course when Yeah, this week, grad school just started with my business. And now I'm so glad I started automating a lot of these things, instead of having to just answer people in my DMS about what I do, I can just send them a link to my website, here's what I do and what I don't do.

Malini Sarma 16:33

Nice. That's, that's really cool. And you should be really proud of you know, how far you've come with achieving your goals. So if if you had to tell others, you know, especially those who are marginalized, and you want to follow your dreams, what advice would you give them?

Charlie 16:52

Just do it. People always praise white rich men, self starter entrepreneurs for being so brave. And they're not. They're the most privileged members of society. And a lot of times they're not exactly self made. Even if you're born into a family that wasn't the richest but had no debt, you're still privileged, myself included, I've benefited from wealth transfers of money I didn't necessarily earn. And so have all these so called successful people. A lot of people don't realize that the reason they're successful is because of generational wealth being passed down. It's not necessarily Oh, you have imposter syndrome, because you personally need to work on this. No, it's intergenerational wealth. It's the wealth gap that's further exacerbating. We're seeing it with COVID. The government's not stepping in to help us. And yeah, just working in finance has made me realize how lenient taxation laws are on the wealthy. That's why they invest so much money because taxation, the tax rules are different, that versus with an income. So just do it anyway.

Malini Sarma 17:59

See, I mean, we actually honestly, just like Yo, you say, you know, starting with the course, and everything, even I have learned so much about money. It's like, I also did not realize that it was generational wealth that cause or that created, you know, people to have that kind of privilege. And in this economy, I think this country is also built for people who have generational wealth, it wasn't designed, even though they say, you know, the American dream. That's, that's, it's, it's a misnomer. When you think about it right?

Charlie 18:27

Now, the people who signed the Declaration of Independence were all good votes, when this country was established, were only whites, wealthy, male land owners, they had assets, they didn't, they weren't eligible to even participate in our democracy. So that tells you all you need to know.

Malini Sarma 18:46

Yeah, exactly. It's quite, it was quite an eye opener for me to you know, I would like just like you, I was like, okay, you know, you worked really hard. And then you can get there. And then you see all the biases, and it's, it's kind of it's, it's a real, it's a big eye opener, I you know, I had no ideas I'm, I'm learning to just like, just like you are. So looking back, you know, in knowing what you know, now, in how far you've come. What would you have told your younger self? We have changed anything.

Charlie 19:22

Oh, yeah, I would have changed so much. I wouldn't have gone to college right away, I would have taken a gap year to just breathe after high school and figure out who I was and what I wanted. Instead of just being thrust into college. I'm just lucky I was thrust into such an amazing place. But not everybody is so lucky. And so many people go into debt because they're told that college is the solution to your problems. It'll be worth the 1000s of dollars of debt we promised and hey, it's not always the case. Or the I would have told myself if you want to make money, get vocational training in a specific city. skills that no one else has right now I feel like my specific skill is trading stocks and knowing about the state of our country watching the news every day and interpreting that, how COVID affected things like interest rates. So that's my technical skill that I've built up over time. And young, just don't, I would have told myself, don't pressure yourself to do what everybody's going to tell you to do. It's okay to take a gap year, Americans, gap years aren't a very normal thing at all in America, maybe that's changing. But in Europe, it's normal to take a year off after high school and just travel and see the world and learn about other people and reflect on what you do and want to do. And when you come back, you'll still get it together and go to college. College isn't going anywhere?

Malini Sarma 20:47

No, okay. I didn't realize that. I thought it was I only heard a few people take a gap year, I haven't heard that many people I didn't realize in Europe is a quite the normal thing. Wow. So any, any last pieces or a piece of advice that you want to give anybody, if they were listening to you, and they're like, I want to do what she's doing, what would be the top three things that you would tell him,

Charlie 21:16

I want to do what they're doing. I would say just don't be afraid to invest in yourself. Like now that I've started doing money coaching, I've received so much positive energy from people who are paying me mostly women of color, black women in particular, who believe in me, and don't underestimate my value, don't try to play down my prices, they just asked me how I charge. Let's go, let's do this. So I put that energy back out there and pay other people to coach me because I also should believe in them, too. I think I still got a lot of people dming me saying that my prices are too high or right now is not a good time or that they want me to coach them. But they still don't sign up for a slot because I understand that level of apprehension. Coaching is traditionally something that like middle class white people do and pursue and have the the side income to pay for these things. And it's just such a new thing. But I don't regret and the amount of money that I've spent on myself in concrete ways.

Unknown Speaker 22:27

I,

Charlie 22:28

I spent 15 $100 over winter break for Jannese's course. And for a real estate investing course, I've definitely spent 15 $100 on weed and alcohol in my life, if not even more, and that did not contribute at all to my personal growth, if anything it hindered it. So whenever you question the value, buying anything, is it an investment? Or is it just a purchase? I think especially in American consumers culture, the big corporations want you to keep that sense of Oh, I just need to buy things to be happy. And I hope that's slowly changing. No, you need to buy experiences and things to invest in yourself in order to survive in this capitalistic society. And if you don't just save money and escape it like I did.

Malini Sarma 23:15

Okay, I think that is very, I think that is very insightful, because I don't think a lot of people realize that. You know, that you end up buying things that you you think buying things and making good and make you happy, but they don't. Mm hmm. So, no, thank you. Sure. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk about your journey and your experiences. And I am sure there are quite a few people listening, who would definitely be inspired by your journey. So thank you.

Charlie 23:46

Thank you, and I'm inspired by your platform. I love what you're building to hosting badass people, their lives. Thank you.

Malini Sarma 23:55

Thank you, I really do appreciate the support. And you know, I'm just starting out and as I talk to more and more people, I realized that how important it is to have a platform like this. So, so thank you, thank you for being on the show, and I really do appreciate it.

Unknown Speaker 24:09

Yeah, thank you. Lots of love.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Malini Sarma

Malini Sarma

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Hello. I am Malini. I am a dancer, world traveler and storyteller. I am a hard core fan of chai and anything hot. I am always looking for new adventures and would rather be outside than inside.

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