Entrepreneurship

A Founder’s Journey Includes Thinking About Life Beyond Your Business With Monica Jalife

A Founder’s Journey Includes Thinking About Life Beyond Your Business With Monica Jalife

VENTEUR spoke with Monica Jalife about her entrepreneurial journey. Jalife attended NYU’s Stern School of Business and received her Master of Business Administration in Finance and Global Business. Upon graduating, she continued her academic journey and earned her CFA charter before pursuing her CFP designation. Jalife is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA), the CFA Institute, and the Financial Planning Association of New York (FPANY).

Jalife is a principal for the private client group at Pinnacle. She works with high-net-worth individuals with their investment and financial planning needs. 

The Journey

The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?

I have learned many things through my journey. I realized that I am resilient and a fighter. I also have learned to be more assertive and to keep moving forward. When things are not going my way, one great lesson has been to know when to pivot and when to keep pushing forward with the same idea. It has been an incredible journey, with its ups and downs - but with an abundance of life lessons and great memories.

The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur? 

I have experienced loneliness. 

I clearly remember feeling lost and not having my support circle so close early in my days in NYC. I did not know many people, and I felt very lonely. Yet, those days were when my inner strength and warrior spirit got me through. I think we all will experience these feelings at some point in our journey, but the key is not to let those define us and always to keep moving forward.

What role has intuition played in your success as an entrepreneur, and why do you think this is the case?

Listening to that inner voice has guided many of my actions; however, I think there are times when I could have been more attuned to that voice. Generally, I would say that my intuition has contributed to my success by guiding certain decisions and having me go after things that turned out to be turning points in my career and life in general. 

The Psychological Warfare 

Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?

For me, it has been a lot of ups and downs. There have been times when I have significantly focused on my health, eating healthy, exercising, and overall feeling fabulous. Still, other times, other factors have impacted my focus, and I have not paid too much attention to my health. While you might not see it at that moment, the times in which you are focusing on your healthy being are the times when your output and creative juices are flowing the best. Insecurity and low self-worth are feelings that can cloud your vision, and I believe we all have them at certain times. 

Stress is another factor that can impact how you feel and act. What I have done in times when the dark cloud is flying over my persona, I take a step back and make an inventory of all the great things I have accomplished and what I am thankful for. This exercise almost always helps refocus and change the tone. I also have written a few articles that give women tips on dealing with these feelings, as sometimes we might be a little more prone to them. I also would say when it comes to focusing on your well-being - there are no excuses. Find the time and focus on yourself. The results will manifest themselves almost immediately.

The Mistakes

What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?

The mistakes I made early on as an entrepreneur was not being more assertive and going for what I wanted right away. This probably set me back some time in the journey. The second mistake I made early on (which I have corrected now) is being afraid to ask. The third one, also related to the other two, is doubting your worth. Understanding our value, what we bring to the table, and our strengths should always be front and center. I find that mentally repeating some of these always helps me before an important meeting. I also now understand that someone saying no is the worst thing that can happen by asking for something. It does not matter. More often than not, we will get what we asked for. So go for it. 

What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?

Wearing my financial advisor hat, I will say that many entrepreneurs I work with are so focused on their business or plan that they don't stop and think about the long term and what is beyond their current stage. That is why I also suggest entrepreneurs get surrounded by their team of trusted experts so that they can focus on their vision while leaving the rest of the planning and essential items to their trusted team. We often become hyper-focused on what is happening in the present, but planning for the future is also key to success.

The Successes

What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you've faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?

Racial discrimination and preconceptions have been significant obstacles over time. Still, I have always managed to deal with the situation and move forward. One more thing has been people not believing in what you are set out to accomplish, but not giving up, getting up as many times as needed, and believing in myself have always allowed me to overcome that. Of course, there will always be doubters but as long as you don't doubt yourself, you will succeed in what you set your mind to. 

The Advice

How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?

I spoke a little about this in an earlier conversation. There are no excuses for taking time to focus on your well-being. Work-life balance is part of this well-being. I would see it as part of your scheduling just like you schedule a meeting to meet with a potential client. You set time to focus on yourself, spend time with your family, or get a massage. Finding time to do what will keep us focused when we need to turn to our business. Work smartly. Being organized will also help us accomplish more in less time. I also go back to having a trusted network will be vital in achieving this work-life balance. 

What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey more manageable, and why?

Never settle. Keep feeding your mental curiosity, and you got this! While no one per se gave me this advice, I think that it is these pieces of advice that helped me get to where I am today and will continue to help me on my future path. If someone had expressly shared this insight, I perhaps would have gotten to where I am. Still, the road I have traveled is also full of great life lessons and incredible memories. 

What do you think the most significant difference is between how an entrepreneur sees their career path versus how an employee at a company sees their career path, and why?

The most significant difference is the level of engagement. As an owner, you are not thinking about a job; you are thinking about what you create. There is no 9-5, and there is a goal that you want to accomplish. As an employee, you might think of moving up the corporate ladder. Still, as an entrepreneur, you are thinking about growing your business, and the sky's the limit. 

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