Your First Million


Your First Million

Excerpted from O, The Oprah Magazine - September 2005

Maybe making a pile of money isn't the driving force in your life but maybe you were brought up to believe that nice girls don't or can't or shouldn't even try to get rich on their own. All we're saying is: Consider the possibilities. If you've got any kind of entrepreneurial itch, you're about to be inspired.

For every woman who earns $100,000 or more, there are four men. The annual median earnings for a man working full time is $40,668. For a woman, it's $30,724. That's almost 25 percent less.

Why is it that so few women plan to be millionaires (or "many-thousandaires," or even let's hear it for "self-supporting with some realistic plan for retirement") when so many men do? Why is it not the woman's responsibility, as much as the man's, to reach for the gold? Is it because we're the primary caregivers for our children? Because we've been programmed from birth, from our fairy tales, novels, magazines, and television shows (Sex and the City, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?) to believe that catching the man means catching the cash?

Women should do what men do: Make the money! Success is a choice. You have an obligation to yourself—to make you your first priority. You don't have to give up love or family; you just have to keep them in balance while you're building your nest egg.

Globally Speaking:
Liz Elting, TransPerfect Translations

In 1992, shortly after graduating with an MBA from New York University's business school, Elting started TransPerfect with classmate Phil Shawe. Their start-up money: $5,000, largely from credit cards. Today the 30-branch international translation and interpretation service takes in more than $65 million a year. Elting is married with two young children.

Eureka!: "I worked in finance for six weeks and thought, 'Why am I doing this? I don't love it.' What I did love was languages. I'd worked at a translation company, first coordinating projects and then in sales, for almost three years after college, and I'd seen a gap between the service and quality that was available and what clients really needed. Today we offer the most qualified linguists and the fastest service in more than 100 languages."

How do you say "espresso" in Swahili?: "In the beginning, Phil and I worked 100, 120 hours a week. I'm lucky I wasn't married and didn't have kids then."

The toughest week ever: "We needed to translate an 800-page geology study into Russian in only six days, and it required people with specialized knowledge. Through networking we found some translators who had actually worked in the mines in Russia, so we flew them in for the job."

Strange but true: "I speak French and Spanish but not well enough to translate. Phil speaks only English."

Life after the struggle: "I'll never feel completely comfortable, because anything can change at any moment. And we still have a long way to go as a company. But now I don't need to work on weekends and I get to be home with my kids every night. And having a certain amount financially does make me feel secure. It's nice not to have to worry about money day in and day out."

—Joni Evans and Nicole Keeter

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