Setting budgets. Saving for retirement. Making wise investments.
We are confident, badass boss babes — so why do so many women avoid financial conversations?

We’re talking to a financial advisor on this episode of Think Tank of Three.

Julie Holton: [00:00:02] Setting household budgets. Saving for retirement. Making wise investments. Whoa! Did we lose you?

Women! We are self-assured, confident, badass boss-babes! So why do so many women avoid financial conversations? Today on Think Tank of Three, we have a special guest to get us out of our patriarchal past and into a new financial mindset.

[00:00:32] [INTRO]

Julie Holton: [00:00:34] Welcome to Think Tank of Three. I’m Julie Holton, here with Kathryn Janicek and Audrey Fink, and today, we have a special guest! Andrea Reagan is a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual. Her goal is to empower growing families and ambitious individuals to achieve financial freedom. I love that. Andrea, thank you for joining us.

Andrea Reagan: [00:00:53] Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Julie Holton: [00:00:55] So Andrea and I recently sat down over coffee to talk about financial planning. And before you know it, we quickly ended up in a great conversation about women and the role that we take on when it comes to managing our money.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:01:10] This is a really important topic. This is Kathryn here. I love that we’re doing this now. There was definitely things that I was unsure of and sometimes a little bit hesitant to talk to my tax account about, but I just finished. And Julie and Audrea know this. So Andrea, I’m really glad you’re here, but I just finished a very extensive, intensive four month program with Goldman Sachs here in Chicago. It’s for small business owners. We did a ton of accounting. We did a ton of financials. We had to you know run our piano reports over and over and over again. It was very, very intensive so, I have a definitely different viewpoint of finances now in my business. So I’m just really glad that we’re talking about this because education is key right.

Andrea Reagan: [00:01:57] Absolutely, I would say education is one of my top priorities going into any meeting because the reality is that not everyone I meet with or speak with is going to become a client. So my personal value system tells me that the goal of that conversation is to make sure that I educate whoever is on the other side of the table. And I love meeting with all kinds of people but I of course love empowering other women to have those conversations; to bring some of these concerns or questions that they have to the surface. And the best way to do that is just to make sure that whether or not they become a client, they leave that meeting feeling more educated, more informed, over making financial decisions than when you started.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:02:36] Good for you. That’s great.

Audrea Fink: [00:02:38] That’s awesome. Yeah. So, Andrea, you meet with a lot–Andrea this is Audrea–you meet with a lot of women seeking financial advice. So what are some of the things you’ve noticed about you know the roles that we take on when we walk in to meet you? What what are the roles we take on for money?

Andrea Reagan: [00:02:56] That’s a great question. What I have noticed right away is just Americans in general, male, female, or otherwise, we don’t really talk about money unless–this is just an observation–unless we notice maybe men talking about money like it’s a sport at the water cooler. In which case they’re talking about their investments, and the rising scores in the falling scores, and who beat who and the stock market. And that is not anywhere near encompassing to most people’s financial situation or most people’s financial experience and needs. So, when I talk with families; and families when we have the decision makers in a room, it could be a couple, it could be two men, it could be two women, it could be a man and a woman; and what I’ve noticed about women’s role in that conversation is it’s very shy and it is very closely held to the vest and it is difficult to talk about. And it has really changed how I think about my practice in terms of wanting to work even more with women to help with that because I know that my industry is male dominated. I know that most of the men that I work with are probably seeking other men to talk about other opportunities with. So if I have an opportunity to seek women out of the crowd and out of even maybe their family situation and help draw that into the discussion that we’re having and decisions about their finances that’s a really important piece on me. But the piece to know about women in the seat and in that situation is what that tells me is that our hard earned dollar as women means something different to us than it can to men. And I would say that grows exponentially greater when we’re talking about women in business or women-business-owners. That is something I’ve noticed in my first year in this business. Just right away that our hard earned dollars means a little bit something different to us as women.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:04:44] I love that you just talked about it being like a sport because, Julie and Audrea know this, but I recently got married about two and a half years ago. And so there was no one for me to set my future along with, you know, it was just me planning ahead. But I kind of–I am a very competitive person, and my husband is several years further along in his career because he’s older than me. But when he talks about like how much money he has in his IRA, he’s just sharing with me like that we’re going to be OK, or you know he’s talking about us planning, but I get really super competitive, so I like recently, it was like twelve months ago, but I went up to my IRA each month and now I’m like, “well I’m a business owner I’m totally going to max out my step-IRA next year because I can have that.” So I get really ultra-competitive because I’m like, “Well he already has this much, like I need to like get there too!” Even though I know like mentally I know like he’s eight years ahead of me. But I love talking about a sport like I wish more women maybe could think of it as kind of like a sport instead of thinking, well he’s good he’s taking care of us. Thinking about like, what can I bring to the table? You know instead of, you know, he’s good, he’s you know this old feeling of like he’s the breadwinner/earner, he’s good. I don’t care if he makes–because he does, he makes more than I do–but I still want to be like well if he’s bringing this much, you know I want to be an equal partner too. It’s like I want to bring that much every month also into my, you know, into our future. So I love that you brought up sport because I feel like I recently definitely took it out as it’s like a competitive even though we’re not competing against each other. But the thing of it is like this is a fun thing, like there could be good, positive energy about it instead of the shyness which I would feel in the past, which I did. I was nervous to look at things like that, but now I try to think of this more a sport.

Andrea Reagan: [00:06:36] I mean it’s a good attitude. It doesn’t surprise me at all as we get acquainted that you’re a business owner because you’re thinking competitively and you’re thinking outwardly and you’re going to have that mindset to build. And I think that’s a lot of people, and they just don’t necessarily have that entrepreneurial side unleashed or at different times in their life, maybe it’s unleashed. But then with women you mentioned that you still have some traditional mindsets around your husband is a little bit older than you. He has had more time to build his financial platform than you have. And I think that women succumb to a lot of those mindsets and that’s not wrong. By all means I have, you know, some of my closest friends are full time parents and full time moms, and their husband is the breadwinner and they don’t feel in control of their money. Now I can still be their friend and still you know, and what works for one family is going to be different for every family. But when I have a family in my office and I notice that one party or the other doesn’t feel empowered to make decisions. Well that’s what’s going to drive the conversation for me in a professional capacity to help make sure that both decision makers are engaged. And, part of my goal is how does that message reach women before they’re in my office? Because it’s kind of subliminal. Men are getting approached more at work because there are more breadwinners or because they’re just talking about it more outwardly like it is a sport and they’re talking about sports a little bit more prominently than maybe women talk about sports. My personal practice my personal values: I want to figure out how to draw women into the conversation more before they even get to my office.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:08:14] Can I ask a quick question? Because she just talked about women who are raising children, like that is their role. It’s hard for us sometimes to understand that, because all three of us who host this podcast, we’re business women we you know we work for companies or we have our own business, ok. We don’t have children there right now, so we don’t have dependents. We are not a woman who has taken that role which is a very important and very difficult role to stay home and raise their children. How do you coach those women, those specific women to take a big role, ask those questions, and not feel bad that they’re asking them because they’re not the ones making the money? Like how do you coach them to become more involved in their finances?

Andrea Reagan: [00:09:02] It’s interesting. That is a phenomenal question, but honestly I can’t take any of the credit because the reality is that most of the women or people that I know in that situation already have decision making power over their finances, they just don’t feel that same sense of empowerment or knowledge over the decisions that are being made. For example, if I have a heterosexual couple in my office, 90% of the time, I would guess, and I say OK I’m glad you’re both here. Who’s the bill payer? And, most of the time, it’s the woman in the room. So she is managing their finances, she’s paying the bills, she is managing schedules. She is controlling the cash flow. It’s just taking a moment to acknowledge that role in a family’s or a couple’s financial future. That that means that you already do have power. I just take a moment to acknowledge it and help them realize it. And that’s what decision makers in the room when we’re having that discussion.

Audrea Fink: [00:09:57] Do you find that the breadwinner tends to be the more dominant in these roles when you when you see them in your office? The reason I ask is, you know historically speaking, my husband has always made more money than me up until the last two years. And the last two years, he went back to school, and then my income changed, so I’m now the breadwinner. But I can see spaces where I make decisions about money that I never used to. But maybe that’s just me being like, well this is my money now. But do you see like whether one, regardless of their gender, but like do you see there being a difference between the decision maker or maybe the power holder, and the person who is truly like the breadwinner?

Andrea Reagan: [00:11:03] Not really. Because typically I see as sort of as I described a moment ago–typically, what I see is the breadwinner is not always the decision maker or at least the chief decision maker. There’s kind of an alpha and a beta. But honestly, honestly, honestly, every couple is different and every family is different. I had approached a woman and knew they had a growing family. I knew they were my target market, people I would love to help and love to work with; and when I asked her about setting up a meeting, and she asked whether her husband should be present, I said decision makers should be present. And she brought her mother to our next meeting and not her husband. It was awesome, it really was, because her mother was retired and ahead. It turns out that their conversations, that I was completely unaware of, were that her mother had some some additional resources in retirement that she wanted to help put towards her daughter’s young children and growing family and the husband. Although he is the breadwinner, was not a decision maker in any capacity in the plan that we were working to arrange. It was just so interesting. But truly, when it’s been same sex couples, or, you know, a heterosexual couple, it is not a standard decision-maker between decision maker and breadwinner. Sometimes the breadwinner is a decision maker, sometimes not. There Just ends up being a really interesting mix as I get to know each family, it’s different every time.

Julie Holton: [00:12:28] Julie here, I want to jump back in because many people in our audience are actually men who like to follow Think Tank of Three, and we love having men along. One thing that I want to talk about is, you know, statistically, the four of us were talking before we started recording today about–we read a lot about women who maybe don’t feel as empowered in making some of these financial decisions. And, you know, we’ve discussed you know all three of our podcast hosts are strong, entrepreneurial women who, you know, just have this business-minded outlook. This confidence; we really work hard to support each other and talk about here on Think Tank of Three. But I will say that, Andrea, when you and I sat down to talk about finances, I can see why some women may not feel as empowered and I’ll use myself as an example. I run my own business, very successful, we’re doing very well. Financially, we’re in great shape. I have no hesitations whatsoever when it comes to managing the books and dealing with my business financials. When it comes to my personal financials, it’s not that I don’t have my house in order, but it’s–I find myself–it’s something that I grew up not talking about. I didn’t get the financial education in high school or in college even, I didn’t. And so it’s not that I don’t know these things, I do them every day in my business, quite successfully. But sometimes I find myself not wanting to necessarily open up, or not wanting to feel like something is being mansplained to me. Something that I’m not going to understand because I’m a woman, or I’m being talked down to, or–and I don’t know if it’s the men that I’m talking to, or if it’s myself. I’ll fully take that on, maybe it’s my approach and I think I’m going to be talked down to even when I’m not. So I just want to hear from you Andrea, how do we change this? What is your approach like when you’re meeting with someone, say like me, who is very confident, successful, can be doing great things with my money, but maybe feels a little hesitant about opening up and figuring this out? How do you deal with someone like that?

Andrea Reagan: [00:14:56] Wow, that’s a big question! And for context, Julie, when we sat down, I mean we clicked almost instantly. So I was perhaps a little bit more raw than I might be with someone who I was approaching and trying to understand better about their perspective. You and I identified really quickly that we both love to support other women in business and we wanted to have this conversation. But to answer your question, you know, it’s–oh gosh, really. I’m going to take this all the way back just. I mean you guys are all clearly powerful and empowered women. But–my mom–we’re gonna give my mom a little shout out which is super fun, because her name is Nancy Reagan. So, Nancy Reagan, got this one because my mom was a nurse at practice. And my dad had a different kind of career and different kind of jobs. But my parents are very blue collar. But when I speak to my mom, you know, she didn’t have a choice on who she serves as a nurse. You serve the patient. And realistically, even though I’m in business for myself and I do have a choice over who I want to work with and typically I want to approach thriving, awesome, ambitious women or growing families because that’s where I see sort of a niche market for myself being able to be of service. Ultimately, whoever I’m approaching, I just want to start the conversation and get to know them, and whatever their passion points are or pain points are. The teality is that most people have a financial need that is keeping them up at night and they don’t want to talk about it. And my job is very, simply, very strictly, find out what that is. And really quickly you and I clicked over your business and my business and we started talking about business. And I think I ask you a question like, I’m so glad that your business is going so well, but what have you done to separate your personal assets? And that’s where the conversation got really interesting. Right? And so whatever that pain point might be for whoever I’m approaching, I want to make sure that I reach it, not because I want to cause them pain, but because I’m in the business of pain relief when it comes to financial representation. And that’s the point that I want to make is, I do have a choice over who I approach, and do I want to approach awesome, wonderful, audacious women like yourselves? Of course. But ultimately approaching anyone, their need could be very, very different, in which case it’s still my job to find out what that is.

Audrea Fink: [00:17:16] So when you work with women, either as couples or, you know, single women, whatever. How much do you think education plays in the role of women feeling empowered, or not empowered, or shy about engaging in finances? And do women and men get different financial educations?

Andrea Reagan: [00:17:38] Great question. In my experience, education does not–I don’t want to say it’s not a factor. Of course I think it’s a factor in everyone’s role, and world, and decision. But, some of the most empowered clients are not educated and some of their driving force is to make sure that they’re breaking a family financial cycle that they grew up in. So they plan more aggressively, and they take very different risks or lay different foundations than some of my other clients who perhaps have a different family situation and educational situation. So my most educated clients are not necessarily my best clients, but I also don’t really see a pattern or a relationship because some of my–for example, some families I work with have different levels of education between the couple in the family, right? And, ultimately, when we’re trying to get to decisions being made for that family by that couple they’re going to make decisions differently. So then it’s, OK which of these decisions are you making together and which ones are you thinking separate and how do we find common ground? Because they’ll often have very different opinions, maybe based on their education level, but more, what I find more of a driving factor behind those decisions is how someone grew up and what how they were raised to think about money. I see that as a much more impactful influence than education.

Audrea Fink: [00:19:05] So then, follow up question for that: how do you see sort of cultural norms or family norms playing into this comfort level with finances? I look in my family, we didn’t really talk about money, but my mother was the spender and my father was the saver. And so like I definitely can see the different components in how I manage financing from watching them. Like I put a high value on saving, but I don’t necessarily do it the way my Dad did, right, and I definitely don’t spend the way my mother did. But then I think about you know, lots of other women who grew up in households where maybe they didn’t have out loud parents that I had, you know, do boys get taught it’s OK to talk about money differently than girls get taught? It’s OK to talk about money–how do those cultural norms play out for you in your experience.

Andrea Reagan: [00:20:00] Yeah that’s a great question. Ultimately, I think, my experience has shown that when men and women are coming into these conversations, the biggest factor is whether or not their family talked about money. And that, and I want to be really clear about that: not dependent on how much money their family had. Because some families that have very limited means do talk about it all the time, because they need to, because they need to have a plan. Children are raised with a higher level of comfort just being open and transparent about what their financial situation is. On the flip side of that, some very affluent families are a little bit more closed off or compartmentalized about their financial means and resources and how they share that with their family. But it can go opposite in both ways. You know, people can have–families can have financial setbacks that they try to hide from their children. And very affluent families can also try to educate their offspring on why they ended up in such a great position to raise a family with the means that they have. So the biggest factor in those cultural norms that you mentioned is just whether or not they talk about it. Their comfort level talking about it. And ultimately, coming back to my role there, whatever their comfort level is, whether it’s high, whether it’s low; how can I make them more comfortable talking about what really matters? For example, if they’re not comfortable talking about money I want them to be more comfortable talking about it in general, and definitely hopefully talking about it with me as a professional, but also if they’re already comfortable talking about money but they want to go back to that sports analogy, let’s talk about scores. Let’s talk about bottom lines. Let’s compare and compete. That’s not what I do. We are trying to help families. I am trying to help families come up with a holistic financial plan. In which case, when they have a high comfort level talking about money, but it’s not creating the financial plan which is our ultimate goal, then I have to try to figure out how we change the conversation into a cultural norm that hits them in the feels. Is your family going to be OK if you disappear tomorrow? Or if you sustain some kind of injury that leaves you unable to work? Or something like–or what’s the plan if that happens, or you know unexpected job loss, or any of the other things that can cause financial disruption. My job is to make sure they’re having that part of the conversation even if they have a high comfort level talking about money already.

Julie Holton: [00:22:21] That’s such a great point too, Andrea, because you know I recently had a very close friend of mine who lost her husband tragically. And he was the financial decision maker in their family right down to she didn’t know all of the passwords for all of their accounts. And after he was gone, suddenly not only was she dealing with this very tragic loss, but she had this financial situation to figure out and in the financial aspects of having just lost her husband and trying to access their bank accounts. And so I think for some women listening too, and men, it’s important, if you are not the financial decision maker in your household, that you still need to be empowered, you still need to be a part of the process. You still need to know what that process is, because we never know what the unknowns are. Whether it’s tragically losing someone, or going through divorce, or just having a loss of a job or some major upset. We never–I always say we’re always one phone call away from something. You know? And so, making sure that we’re empowered and we have that information is going to help us be better prepared.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:23:29] Absolutely and how can you trust somebody else, anyway? I don’t care if they’re your husband or wife, but what if you don’t know if they really have the wherewithal that they say they do? You know, you may have debt that you know, I mean, that really scares me to think that this woman lost her husband. It’s terrible, that she didn’t know the password. She didn’t know how much she was paying, you know, for utilities every month or she don’t know anything. So that’s very scary. And that’s why I asked you, Andrea, is like how do you coach those women who maybe don’t know that stuff? Because it’s like, how do you tell them, women or men, you know, to just be more empowered or ask those questions or you know ask for the passwords? That is a very scary way to live.

Andrea Reagan: [00:24:15] It is and I really try to help help clients have those difficult conversations.

Kathryn Janicek: [00:24:20] You have a really hard job!

Andrea Reagan: [00:24:21] It’s a hard job and it’s it’s not. I mean people can say you know money is just math. It is not just math. Because people, we as Americans don’t like to have these conversations. We don’t like to have these conversations even with our partners or our spouses. There isn’t always a plan even if there is money flowing. That doesn’t mean there’s a plan or that the plan is going to go according to plan. So then what’s plan B, plan C, plan D? And who are you working with to find that out? You know there’s a lot of value in working with a professional and I think a lot of women don’t necessarily understand that value. We haven’t been taught at this point in our lives. That’s not always being translated to us, even at this point in our lives because the financial industry is very male dominated. Men are going to approach their target audiences and target clients as well. So when I decided to make a career change, it was really because I saw an avenue for myself where I could bring an elevated level of compassion to the people that I want to work with because these are difficult conversations to have. And things often don’t go according to plan. So there’s a lot of nuances in that.

Julie Holton: [00:25:25] So before launching your business as a financial adviser, Andrea, you served as the executive director of the capital area I.T. council here in Michigan. And prior to that, you were the talent and retention director for a large economic development corporation. So I.T. and economic development prior to financial planning: all very male driven fields. Can you talk to us about–was it challenging? I mean you’ve risen to the top as a leader in each of these fields that you’ve worked in. Were there challenges along the way in these male dominated fields?

Andrea Reagan: [00:26:04] I mean of course. There’s always challenges. I mean everyone’s career has challenges, everyone’s job has challenges, whether it unfolds into a career path like mine or not. They are male dominated industries. And I had some really interesting experiences, in particular in economic development, because I started in economic development almost eleven years ago and my male colleagues had graduated from college the same year that I had. I did not have a career planned in economic development, but my skills sort of took me in that direction and that’s where I was recruited and offered a position and I thought let’s try it. But my male counterparts were seeing this surge of women in the industry. So they kept saying around the office that they thought the industry was female dominated. That warped perception really stayed with me because I kept looking around to my four male counterparts as the only woman at the table going, “No it isn’t! Are you kidding? That’s that’s a joke right?” But their perception was that there was such an influx of women in that industry, and there was so much more presence that they, you know, I’m sure there’s echoes and even maybe new waves of that feeling among men and women kind of in today’s society and in media presence just for a lot of reasons. But. Without getting too far into that, in economic development, you know, it had a lot to do with relationship management. But that’s not necessarily how it was taught to me. And so once I learned that, that was a very empowering position to be in, in that role of, “Oh, I can manage these relationships. That’s the part I’m good at. I can do that.” And that leads to a lot of business success in these avenues in very tangible and measurable ways. But it’s interesting, because there’s a lot of signs right there to tell you on the way that whatever my perception is is wrong and my male counterparts are telling me something else entirely and then that made me question myself like, “Well am I wrong?” You know. “Am I looking at this correctly? What am I doing here?” And so there was a lot of challenges in those emotional components as far as being relevant and showing up in male dominated industries. And then, more so than just showing up and being relevant, how do you find power? How do you build success? How do you actually build a foundation that leads into the career path that you wanted to be in? That sort of happened mid-stride, I would say for me, in those career moves along the way.

Audrea Fink: [00:28:23] So what would you say your tactics were for finding power or for you know dominating and finding success in those roles? What were you able to do that let you stand apart?

Andrea Reagan: [00:28:36] Great question. Not of what I did well I can take complete credit for it. Because some of it was just natural talent that I, I mean, I’ve met Julie now twice and been invited under the podcast in our developing relationship which is wonderful. But I really can think with my mouth pretty well. And being able to talk through–.

Audrea Fink: [00:29:01] I’m going to use that line, “I can think with my mouth!” I love it. I love it.

Andrea Reagan: [00:29:06] It doesn’t always work to my advantage.

Audrea Fink: [00:29:08] I don’t think with my mouth. Things come out. It’s horrible.

Andrea Reagan: [00:29:12] It worked to my advantage in many situations, even in times where I didn’t think it would. And so some of that was just talent. Some of that was relationship building; you know relationship building with my colleagues who knew more about economic development than I did, but they didn’t have to help me or answer my questions. And so even though they’re sitting here not purposefully, but, telling me things that are sending me messages that say you’re wrong, and you don’t belong here, or we’re overwhelmed with you already, I still had to show up and just being willing to ask questions, be willing to learn on the fly; be willing to implement those answers quickly, and then think with my mouth and talk myself through some hairy situations and just keep climbing and kind of own it along the way.

Audrea Fink: [00:31:28] This has been so insightful, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your thoughts, Andrea Reagan of Northwestern Mutual. Before we go, we are collecting some advice from women in our communities and then sharing it out with our communities. So we have three rapid fire questions for you. Are you ready?

Andrea Reagan: [00:31:50] I’m ready.

Audrea Fink: [00:31:52] Is there a lesson that you have learned recently that you wish you would have learned earlier in your career?

Andrea Reagan: [00:32:00] Yes. It is OK–It is more than OK–it is fabulous to fail. And fail big, and fail publicly, and fail hard, and fall hard. And I feel like this is a message that women tell each other all the time and our superiors tell us all the time. But what I really think is that it’s–no matter how many times I had been told that, it is different when you do it. The power that comes from doing it just means it’s tenfold. And I honestly, I don’t know when we got so afraid to fail publicly in particular, because we spend the first 18 years of our life learning in front of other people every single day. And failure is learning. But it’s just learning, you know, and you keep going. That’s all it is. And so, being able to just fail miserably, and big, and publicly, and upward, and laugh at yourself, and keep going. There really is no secret. Everyone’s going to fail at some point, the secret is you just keep going. So failing, being more willing to fail, and laugh, fail and get back up, and fail publicly is definitely a lesson I learned recently that I could’ve afforded to learn a lot sooner.

Kathryn Janicek:  What advice would you offer to your younger self, ten years ago?

Andrea Reagan: That’s an awesome question, ultimately, because the answer I just gave to order about you know she asked me about tactics and I said “I think with my mouth,” that’s not a really good tactic. That’s not reliable. But the advice I would give to my ten-years-ago-self, my younger self, would just be to be a little bit more organized in my thought. Which is to say, have a little bit more of a plan. I didn’t have a plan for a career in economic development. I didn’t have a plan to be an executive director of the I.T. Council. Both of those opportunities opened up to me because I was building a great network and I was working really hard. And leadership opportunities arose. That’s not true for most people, that’s not true for everybody, and it’s definitely not true for a lot of women. We have to trailblaze. We have to work really hard. We have to take those opportunities as they arise. And so my 10 years ago self, what I would tell her is just to be a little bit more intentional. Who do I want to learn from? What do I really want to learn? And where my trying to go? Because it’s difficult to measure success if you don’t know where you’re going, because then you don’t know when you got there. And that was hard for me as those career opportunities unfolded. I didn’t always know how to take advantage of great opportunities when the great opportunities arose because it’s almost like I didn’t expect them to. So maybe having a little more confidence would be in that message also. But yeah, that’s the thing, is just being a little bit more intentional, and a little bit more organized in what I was trying to learn along the way.

Julie Holton: [00:33:27] Last question. What do you think the most important skill is to home for a woman in today’s professional setting? What skill would you say is most important hands down?

Andrea Reagan: [00:33:40] It is critical thinking. When I think back to some of the other positions that I had, some of the projects that came down to the pipeline were–honestly, I can look back and objectively say I was set up to fail in that project. I mean not in my whole role, but in that project. I did not have the tools that I needed, and I didn’t know I didn’t have the tools that I needed because coming back to one of the other questions, I would’ve been a little bit more organized in kind of assessing, “Okay, here’s a project that I have on my plate. Do I have everything that I need to accomplish this?” And if I don’t, tell someone. And, even if that someone isn’t your superior, tell someone or tell myself, and start to ask those questions, “OK, yhen why is this the goal? OK. Well, whose motivation is it to get this done and why don’t I have the things that I need?” And if I don’t have the things, that I need how can I get them? And if there’s no one I can tell, who can I tell outside of work? Whatever those pieces are, just always be thinking what, how, and why, and ask questions even if you’re not in a position or empowered enough to be able to ask them outwardly, because they really don’t think I could have–I don’t think I was in a position to be able to say to my boss, “I don’t have what I need to get that done.” Well, maybe I was in a position to say it, I don’t know that it would have changed the trajectory of those projects. They probably would have said, “do it anyway.” Or, you know, in lots of other circumstances they would’ve said, “Well, we’ll find someone who will.” And, those are the challenges that women face, and I think that’s part of what feeds into the fear of failure. So even if you’re not thinking or not speaking outwardly about it, just critical thinking skills. Asking why, asking how, asking who it’s important to, and figuring out how to get the resources you need to accomplish any task is the most important piece. Because we can’t just always drink the Kool-Aid, then we don’t have any control, we don’t have any intention. And finding those pieces along my career path is what led me to the empowered decisions that I’m making. Like being in business for myself, and choosing who I want to work with, and following all those wonderful leads, and that just starts to rev the engine more and more. But those critical thinking skills; you really can’t get anywhere without them.

Audrea Fink: [00:35:51] Awesome. Well, Andrea before we start to wrap this up, can you share the best way for someone who hears this podcast and wants to talk to you a little bit more? What’s the best way for them to get a hold of you if they have additional questions?

Andrea Reagan: [00:36:01] Absolutely. I’m available online. I have a website through Northwestern Mutual. My brand new online domain space is It links right to my Northwestern Mutual space so you can find me. I also have a Facebook page that I recently set up for business, and it’s searchable and findable but I’m populating it as we speak and kind of, like all other entrepreneurs, just you know, building the bridge as I cross it myself. So there’s lots of tools. Feel free to just find me online, shoot me an e-mail, or a note. I’m happy to talk anytime.

Julie Holton: [00:36:38] Andrea Reagan, thank you so much for joining us today. That is all for this episode of Think Tank of Three. Connect with us and our guests online,, we blog there weekly. You can subscribe right on our website and we’ll send you an email when the next podcast or blog goes up. You can also find us on social media. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We’ll be sure to connect Andrea’s information there for you as well. So make sure and look for that if you’re looking to connect with her. We also have a private group on Facebook so we can all share freely; talk with one another. We look forward to hearing your feedback, any questions you might have for Andrea, you can find her there. Just look for the group in the community section on our Facebook page. Last but not least, if you have topics that you would like us to discuss on our next podcast, or if you have any questions, send us a message at Thanks for joining us.

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