Wise Woman Wealth Wisdom from Disruptor Alicia Holmes
“The future of our earth may depend upon the ability of all women to identify and develop new definitions of power and new patterns of relating across differences.”
— Audre Lorde, from “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”
The world of finance is full of surprises. First, Elon Musk has teamed with Snoop, even more surprising than the rapper’s alliance with Martha Stewart (or is it?). It began with the Bitcoin craze a couple of years ago, and persists today with the popularity of cryptocurrency. There are pros and cons, but there’s no escaping the fact that this is a front and center financial topic that’s here to stay.
If we’ve already lost you, hang on. What we’re talking about is the shift to intangible legal tender. The trajectory from paper and coin — hard, cold cash — to digital currency is parallel to the shift from gold and silver to paper. The shift seems inevitable. Yes, there are risks. Financial experts don’t agree on the future of crypto, because it’s volatile, prone to hacking and fraud, and remains unproven. However, some experts have suggested that Bitcoin could be worth as much as $100,000 one day. A leaked (and frequently cited) report from Citibank even showed that one industry insider believes the digital currency could surpass $300,000 per coin by the end of 2023, according to Forbes. In this context, volatility can be viewed as a sort of fee for participation versus a penalty. For those of us who vacationed at Club Med a few lifetimes ago, the discussion may stir sun-drenched memories of trading strands of plastic pop-beads for cocktails at the swim-up far. Dreamy, and kinda surreal.
Alicia Holmes, known as the “Wealth Whisperer,” conducts wealth workshops including real estate and investment sessions for women of all ages, and cites education in cryptocurrency as an example of what’s needed to empower women in regard to their own financial wellness. She’s dedicated to providing women of color with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors to build wealth in the “5th Industrial Revolution.” In case you’ve lost count, the “5th Industrial Revolution” (5IR for short) is often defined as shaping the future with technologies that are both ethical and humane. A quick recap: the first industrial revolutions in Britain and America circa the 1780s introduced steam power mechanized the textile industry. The second created the means for mass production through the assembly line a century later. The third (we’re there now, by the way) began with electronics and automation, and today is all about the introduction of the web and the transformation of communications technology. We’re on the cusp of the fourth, which focuses on cyber systems and networks and quantum computing, where humans and machines combine in the workplace, with rock star AI (Artificial Intelligence) taking center stage. The fifth will challenge our long-held assumptions about every aspect of life, starting with how we work. Evidence of this is the recent evaporation of the conventional 40-hour, 9-to-5 work week which was based to serve the labor needs of the factory era centuries ago (during IRs 1 and 2).
We recently Zoomed with Bronx-born Holmes during a rainy visit to Los Angeles, following one such workshop of which she said, “I’m not teaching financial literacy, I am teaching wealth-building. Women may find themselves completely out of the loop when it comes to their finances. We obviously have to put ourselves into the loop. My message is that knowledge is accessible, and it’s ours to claim.”
“I hit the ground running,” she said, “starting with when I learned about leverage in real estate.” Holmes soon became a self-made millionaire as a result, in part, of early mentoring received at age 19 from a fellow alumnus of NYU Stern School of Business who asked her whether she wanted to be wealthy, or merely rich. The distinction is essential, and Holmes argues that many rich people aren’t wealthy. Rich means high current income, while true wealth means using your money to control how you spend your time.
So Alicia Holmes is the mentor we all wish WE’D met when we were 25 or so. But don’t lose heart: remember that Warren Buffett, traditionally viewed as the greatest living example of investing skill, accrued about 95% of his wealth after age 65. As regards cryptocurrency, she says, “I just hosted this workshop about cryptocurrency and not one woman who walked in the room thought that it was for her. By the time we finished, every one of them had changed her mind.” Of cryptocurrency, she says “We all need to be in the conversation about macro-economics and the power structure and know where things are going, because we can do something to disrupt it. Women who have abundance can build wealth, and have an impact on the world.”
Abundance is the operative word. One of Holmes’ touchstones is fellow New Yorker Mina Ennin Black, founder of The Black Financial Wellness and The Rainmakers Collective well as the iPhone app, Financial Phyness which allows users to give their finances a checkup. Black, like Holmes, reveals that the attitude of abundance reaches far beyond finances. Changing how we think about money and investing is usually crucial to success, says Holmes, because money is a conduit of emotion and ego, carrying hopes and fears, dreams and heartbreak, confidence and surprise, envy and regret. “I don’t care where you are in life,” she says, “You can make decisions that make the whole world better.”
As recently as the 1990s, ambitious women who wanted to achieve success and earn their own wealth were coached to be as masculine as possible as they climbed the corporate ladder toward the glass ceiling (in stilettos, no less). Womanly curves were masked in boxy suits. Tresses were tamed, and Black women were cautioned against (or outright forbidden from) wearing natural hair. Our silhouettes were absurdly broadened with stiff shoulder pads, and career coaches advised us not to have plants and flowers on our desks (too feminine) and to never, ever wear pink.
Holmes references this toxic model as “traumatized by Wall Street” and offers her clients something quite different. “My secret sauce is that I honor the Divine Feminine,” she says. Her latest challenge is called “Seducing Abundance,” where she guides participants in manifesting their wealth through receiving, and not penetrating.
“As women, we need to be grounded and centered in our divine femininity,” says Holmes. “I’ve seen women make themselves ill by being purely in their masculine. That model does not work.” She adds that she’s been active in a spiritual circle for more than 20 years, saying “A lot of us come from an attitude of scarcity, and we limit our dreams, not believing in ourselves. But we are abundant with the flow of energy and life. When I need to make a decision, of course I look at data. But I also ask myself, how does it feel in my body? Women’s bodies carry a lot of stories. When we unearth those stories and get into a flow, wealth isn’t something we acquire. It’s something we tune into.”
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