Bridget Venus Grimes, President & CFP
San Diego, CA
Pamela: Hi, my name is Pamela DeNeuve and I’d like to welcome you to Lawyer of the Week. This week, I have a very special guest. Her name is Bridget Venus Grimes and she’s in the San Diego area and she is the president of WealthChoice. And that is a boutique financial life planning firm that specializes in helping high executive women, specifically for our audience of women lawyers, take control of their financial lives. And she opened- or she created- WealthChoice after working with professional women and their families for years and finding a great need for customized solutions that address the financial challenges unique to women. And she believes in empowering women through education, collaboration and support, so that they can have the confidence to take action for a better life. Welcome, Bridget. I’m so glad that you’re with us today.
Bridget: Thanks, Pam. I’m so glad that you asked me to join.
Pamela: So, I want to ask you- because I know that you work with a lot of women lawyers, as well as other high executives, what made you decide on this? To help women in this way?
Bridget: You know, it’s interesting. When I launched my business many years ago, it was really based on helping women like myself- so career women who had a lot on our plate- as a result of my own personal transition from married to divorced. And I found that many of the women I knew were in the same situation, and this- you know, these are really accomplished women attorneys who were so busy with their careers that they didn’t have time to think about what would happen to themselves, right? And what I find with women attorneys, and with attorneys in general, is most of these folks were attracted to law because it was going to afford them a lifestyle
that they wanted, right? They liked law and this was one way to live a good life. And I found that the women I came in contact with spent so much time working and so little time living, that there was a really great need to help them change that.
Pamela: Boy, that really is very true. And, you know, I’ve seen it myself. And if you could say something- if you could say something- like, what is something that if you could say to lawyers, or even to your clients, like that maybe you can’t say to an individual, what would that be to them?
Bridget: In terms of how to sort of shake them up to get on track? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s actually- there are just four really big issues that if women execs and women attorneys focused on, would enhance their quality of life, no kidding. It really comes down to these four key things and I would- I would say for the women attorneys- and most of my clients are women attorneys- I would say, you know, we start with, what do you really want your life to look like? You know? What’s really important to you? I’m not just talking about the money, right? What is your quality of life that you want personally, professionally and financially? And spend some time thinking about that, and be realistic and detail it out.
And- and that’s really what the root of this all is. And that job you have is the tool to live that life. So, you know, spend time and what do you want it to look like? And then we can talk about, “Okay, how do we change where you are now?” Because we’re talking- because most of the time, people are not at that place, right? You know, I can ask people when I- when- I talk a lot to different organizations and one of the questions I ask is, “How many of you actually feel like you’re living the life that you want?” And I can tell you very few people can say they are.
So, we step back and the entire purpose of our firm is to help people- help these women- live the life they want. So, let’s start with, “Well, what is that?” And you’ll find- I find that most women attorneys have never given themselves permission to think big, to really allow themselves to think about, “Well, what- in a perfect world, what would that be?” And that- that is the question I would ask- that I do ask these folks right out of the gate.
Pamela: So, what is the biggest obstacle you think, for women in general, to allow themselves to entertain that question or even to make the sacrifices or make the changes that are necessary?
Bridget: You know, the biggest obstacles I see for- for financial security for women executives comes down to really two very big things. And one is managing your cash flow effectively and the other is managing your career or your business. Really leveraging that component as best as it could be because- so, to back up, you know, women attorneys make good money and they also spend a lot of it. Very- and that’s a blanket statement and based on what I’ve seen- that’s what I’ve seen. So, what’s awesome is that they have this money to work with in the first place. So, if you can- if you can manage that, if you can carve out what’s important to you, what those goals are, you know, in your life- and it’s so personal, right?
So- so, let’s say you, you know, you want to keep working till you’re 65 and maybe you’d like to dial back work at that time and just have your top few clients that you are going to work with. But basically, life- work’s going to be on your terms at that time. That- that would be one of your goals. Well, how do we get there? You know, we start to see- well, where are you right now, and what are the gaps and what are we going to have to do to get to what you want that to look like? And for these women lawyers, it really is cash flow management because they’ve got the money coming in, so how do we spend it in the smartest way and how do we allocate it for the goals? So, we come up with budget, we track it, we track their spending. I- you know, my team will- will watch where their money goes and together we’ll come up with a budget with that client and ourselves. So, women have to be willing to say, “Okay, I have this ideal life but I’m going to have to make some incremental changes to get there.”
So, the number one thing is cash flow- huge- and then really, our tool for even creating that cash flow is our job. And so, for women attorneys, it will either be your partner in a firm or you’re running a firm. Those are the two folks I work with. And so, if you’re running a law firm, what’s your business plan? You know, perhaps you’re generating revenue but it could be done in a different way, right? Perhaps you’re not really running that company as effectively as possible. Well, let’s get the resources in to see what the story is there.
Perhaps you don’t even like the direction your practice is in. Well, how do we change that? Perhaps you’re an attorney who really could be better at generating more business, so we try to identify, “Okay, where are you with that career or business? Where do you want to be? And again, what are the gaps and how are we going to leverage that?” Because this tool- that career- that drives it all. That drives the cash flow. That drives your ability to even come up with- to fund any of those goals and life that you have. Long answer to a question but those are the two areas that will absolutely derail women attorneys first.
Pamela: Okay, so let me just make sure. So, the first one is cash flow?
Pamela: It’s how they’re spending the cash.
Pamela: So, that’s very important. So, I have to make priorities.
Bridget: Right. And you make the priorities based on the fact that you spend some time thinking about what’s important to you, right? You know- and not everybody- it’s not all about making as much money as possible. It’s having this quality of life, right? So- and the driver is the career. So, a lot of thought goes around- the career management is two parts: it’s compensation and it’s quality of life. And so, I would ask someone to really think about, “Okay, you know, your vision for your career, how is that going to work with your life? Because you are drawing the law for some reason. And what do you expect that to do for you? You know, from a- from a- from a compensation standpoint but also from quality of life, you know? And how do we make those changes?”
So, you know, for a lot of these attorneys, it’s how do you also carve out- incrementally carve out time for what’s important to you? And that becomes part of, “How do you manage that career,” right? Because it’s important to be able to add in that life. Because all of this money means nothing if you’re not happy and healthy. You know that. You know, I mean none of this is about just as much money as you can can make. Because I have many clients who make a lot of money and are not very happy people until we come up with a plan to change that. To change, “How do you translate this career into the quality of life that’s important to you?”
Pamela: Yeah. I like that. You know, I think of it as if the tail is wagging the dog.
Pamela: So, a lot of times, if, you know, an attorney- or is not careful, the career becomes the tail that wags everything and the quality of life goes by the wayside.
Bridget: Right, right. And I would say- you know, what I have seen on many occasions is that folks are in that career, they’re making the good money, they’re working all the time because the hourly model is brutal, right? There’s no time to take off, so they wind up really- they wind up spending the money that they make and not saving it toward specific goals. They wind up spending it because it gives them temporary satisfaction, right? And they feel entitled to spend this money that they’ve worked so hard to earn but they wind up on this perpetual cycle and they can never get off because they haven’t saved for the future. And they haven’t really thought about, “What’s my business plan around this career that will allow me to change the way I’m living now?” Right? You know, there are choices for these folks but you have to step back and say, “Well, what is really important to me?” Otherwise, you do wind up on this treadmill where you are constantly earning the money, you’re spending the money because you want the gratification that comes with that. And you can never get- you can never change.
Pamela: Right, right. So, just- just to change the tone of our conversation a little bit, I want to talk about well-being. You just mentioned that. So, what do you think- personally- what do you- how do you prioritize your own personal well-being and then how do you kind of translate that to your clients?
Bridget: Yeah. And that’s a really good question because I think I’ve been an awesome planner at telling other people what to do and then it’s so easy to not do that yourself, right? So- and I really do think that you have to- you have to think about yourself, right? And if we aren’t healthy, the rest of this is a waste, to be honest. So, you know, I actually launched my own firm because of that question. To provide myself with the well-being and to be able to do in my career what my passion was, which was really to focus specifically on women execs and their problems because as I mentioned, they’re very specific challenges that we really need to plan around. So, I launched a firm that was purely focused on my passion. I work only with women and their families who are a good fit for both of us, right? So, part of it was having the client base that really is who I’m passionate about serving.
Another part was, you know, moving my office closer to my house, which sounds so basic, right? But I don’t spend two hours in the car anymore. I literally walk to my office. I look at the water in San Diego and you know, I changed my work surrounding to enhance my quality of life. I am a huge proponent of trying to incrementally add qualities of life to our life. And so, you know, I’m as busy as the next person but I know that I can take ten minutes for a walk. Like, I can- I can, in the course of a day, find- squeeze the time in. And, you know, at the same time, I have an app on my phone for mindfulness and that app’s so great. And it will send me messages throughout the day and it will remind me that, you know, take a breath and it sends me positive notes, which is awesome. And actually, a woman attorney/client introduced me to that app some time ago. It was awesome.
And I bring speakers in pretty much every other month on a quality-of-life thing for women. And I- so, that’s the next thing I think for us- for we women execs- having a tribe, having a group of like-minded women that comes together and shares if they’re- you know, we share educational things. We share support. We share best practices. We share feedback. We’re- we’re sounding board for each other. So, I really believe that that helps us. And I try to bring that group of women together. I try every month. Sometimes it’s every other month but I’ve been doing that for a long time. And then I’ll bring in a speaker on some quality of life that will really help us. And it can be crazy. You know, we had a woman come in last month who taught us how to pack for one week’s worth of travel, business and leisure, in a carry-on bag. I had so many- because so many of us travel for business, right?
Pamela: I needed that class.
Bridget: Oh my god, it was great. Can I tell you, people were like, “Can she come back?” But- but it was- it was fun because it brought a group of, you know, like minded, traveling women execs and- and it taught us something that- what that can help your life. Like, I hate checking my bags when I travel for work. You know- I mean- it’s the little things. I mean, the point of that is, just there are little ways that we can enhance our life and- and I think- so, I actually do that now. I’m not kidding.
And I’ve learned from other women in my network. The whole reason I go to a gym now- because I was always too busy to do that- the entire reason is because there is a women attorney friend of mine who said to me last year, “Bridget, I am so busy but I have made it a point to go to the gym a couple times a week. “And I thought- you know what? I’m just- you know, we’re all busy. And I’m going to try that. And she basically challenged me. And so, I have to tell you, it’s great.
And then this- and I do go a few times a week- and then I got permission, if you will, from a personal trainer I brought in to speak to a bunch of us women many months ago. And he said, “Okay look. You are all these perfectionist women and you feel like you are all in or it’s nothing.” And he said, “Give yourself permission to do it for ten minutes.” Right? Ten minutes is better than nothing. And you know, he’s right. So, it’s incrementally adding these things that will add to quality of life that I have tried to do as much as I’ve tried to help my clients incorporate that.
Pamela: Wonderful, wonderful. Well, Bridget, I’m so glad that you shared with us today. I know that a lot of women lawyers out there are, you know, are in that situation. Now, do you- you’re in San Diego. Do you speak with lawyers and other locations, as well?
Bridget: Oh, sure. Yeah. Our clients are all over the country. So, I’m originally from the East Coast. I have a lot of clients there but they’re everywhere. Most of our meetings are virtual because, like our conversation today, everyone’s really busy. And- and things have changed. You know- and I don’t feel like you sacrifice a whole lot when we meet virtually. But absolutely. And- and I would just say, if I could leave any parting advice. You know, the best thing that anyone could possibly do is think about what’s important to them and get back to that really basic thing. Personally, professionally, financially. You know, where would you like to be? Because you can be there if you take a couple steps, you know? And it just- it can be incremental. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. But start with what’s really important to you. And they all have these awesome careers. You know, women and women attorneys that I’ve met. They’re smart. They can do this, right? But it starts with, what do they want?
Pamela: That’s wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Bridget and really appreciate you being our guest on Lawyer or the Week.
Bridget: Thanks for having me, Pamela.