Many people link happiness to ‘getting rich’ but to live a fulfilling life we must re-define wealth, says Dorothy Illson.
Dorothy is the host of the Do Well & Do Good podcast, showcasing a growing tribe of trailblazers who are using their financial prosperity to change the world for the better.
She started the podcast on the back of the success of her Facebook advertising agency, Needle’s Eye Media.
“To me, fulfilment is about creating a holistic sense of wealth in our lives,” Dorothy told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast.
“The connotation of wealth is typically associated with money, but to me, wealth encompasses so much more than that.
“We want to have wealth not only in our financial lives, but in our relationships, in our own personal growth and development, in our health. If we have all the money in the world, but we’re sick all the time, then that’s not true wealth. If we have all the money in the world, but our relationships are crap and we’re constantly fighting with our partner or don’t have any friends, well, that’s not true wealth either.
“Fulfilment is about creating a situation in our lives where we have the resources, money included, to be able to work on all those different areas that are so important.
“I’m sure all of you are very ambitious, very driven, you have massive goals, but I think it’s easy to get caught up in that race and to forget that there are so many things that are important to our happiness, at the end of the day, which is really what all of us are chasing.”
For Dorothy, coming to this philosophy has been a journey.
She was initially taking a conventional path, having studied accounting and successfully completed an internship with PwC.
At the same time as being offered a job at the ‘big four’ firm, Dorothy was stumbling into personal development content that would ultimately change her life.
“It never occurred to me that I could make a new choice,” she said.
“I thought ‘I’m in so deep, this is what I’ve studied for all of school, what other choice do I have?’ Then, the more books I’ve read, the more people that I listened to, I must’ve spent hundreds of hours that year just watching YouTube videos and personal development and reading self-help books, and I realised, ‘Hey, actually, I’m in control here. I can do whatever I want.’ I had enough confidence in myself that I’d be able to figure it out.
“Long story short, two weeks after I graduated from school, I called up that accounting firm and told them that I wasn’t coming. It was really a huge leap of faith, but I landed on my feet. I moved to Chicago anyway. I am from Cleveland, Ohio, but I had the job here in Chicago. Even though I quit the job, I already had an apartment lined up and roommates and all that. I just moved anyway, and I really do believe that if we just press forward and keep moving with confidence and with faith in ourselves that things will work out and opportunities will be provided.
“That was something that was really powerful. I realised that work doesn’t just have to be getting through the day to collect your paycheck and go home. You can actually love what you do. You can enjoy what you do. You can be excited to go to work. You can find somewhere that gives you flexibility and autonomy, all of the things that I just didn’t think.”
Instead, Dorothy landed at a startup that she helped grow from zero to $6 million a year in annual revenue in the first three years.
Fast growth would follow her to the next venture, her own Facebook marketing company, that quickly generated booming monthly revenues and financial success for the founder.
But Dorothy wanted more than a big income. She wanted to make an impact on the community and build something that really mattered.
Not only does her podcast highlight the inspiring stories of people using their success to change the world, Dorothy also donates 10% of Needle Eye’s profits each month to a charity chosen by her guests and audience.
“It’s always been something that’s been important to me in my personal life to give, but being able to really integrate that into the very fabric of my business model the way that you’ve done as well, I think, is just really meaningful and gives a whole new level of purpose to what we do day in and day out for our clients, for our customers, whatever it may be,” she said.
Dorothy is setting out to prove that money itself doesn’t make you a bad person, as many believe.
“You really need to work to overcome that belief system and to recognise that, actually, if you do want to make an impact, if you really want to help people, if you have a cause that you’re passionate about, and you really want to make a difference, sure, you can go volunteer your time, and that’s a wonderful thing to do, and I hope that everyone does that, but the level of impact you can have is so much greater if you are able to create a level of financial prosperity for yourself and that it doesn’t have to be either/or,” she said.
“It’s really about flipping the script that, no, money doesn’t make you a bad person. Money amplifies who you already are. If you’re a bad person or a greedy person without money, you’re going to be a bad person with money. If you’re a good person a heart of gold and a giving spirit, you’re going to be amplified in that generosity when you do have financial success. Money is a magnifying glass at the end of the day. It makes us more of who we already are.”
Listen to the full interview here.
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