Award-winning actor, Leslie Odom Jr., and host Michael Liersch discuss how intentionally writing down your goals can help you move to achieving them.
|Investment and Insurance Products are:
Transcript:[Michael Liersch:] Hey, humans, I’m Michael Liersch and this is the About Money Podcast, presented by Wells Fargo. I’m a behavioral scientist with a PhD in cognitive psychology, who loves openly discussing money to help humans better understand their money behaviors. By understanding our money behaviors, we all have the opportunity to make better money decisions.
This season we’re going to talk about jobs money can do for us. Jobs? You might ask. Yes, money does many jobs for us, such as helping us with our family, lifestyle, the community, aging, travel, investing, and more. We have a great lineup of guests for you, so let’s get into it.
In this episode, we’re going to speak with Leslie Odom Jr., actor and singer who gained critical acclaim for his Tony and Grammy winning portrayal of Aaron Burr in the musical, Hamilton. Leslie has most recently been nominated for many awards, including an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his role as Sam Cooke in the film, One Night in Miami.
The historical characters Leslie has portrayed and the songs he’s sung, have motivated conversations across generations, cultures, and identities. Similarly, in the About Money Podcast, we want humans to have conversations too, and in this case, about money. That’s why having Leslie on the About Money Podcast is so timely. He lives the idea in both his professional and personal life, of moving past silence to share experiences, our goals, so that we can get to where we want to go in life.
I’m so excited to speak with Leslie because he can help us answer the question that we’re asking in this episode; how can money conversations help us move forward?
Leslie, thank you so much for joining the About Money Podcast, we’re so happy to have you here today.[Leslie Odom Jr.:] It’s my pleasure, really. [Michael Liersch:] So let’s get right into it, Leslie. We set a bit of the context around money messages, and to that end, since you are such a personal and professional inspiration to so many people, Leslie, I’d like to start with the personal and then move to the professional if that’s okay with you. Is that alright? [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah. [Michael Liersch:] Okay. Awesome, so what was it like growing up as Leslie Odom Jr., and I want to ask specifically, Leslie, for you to hit on some of the money messages that you received in your family growing up. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, my parents were both first generation college graduates, first in, you know, in their family, and there had been sacrifices made to make that happen for them. My father’s family specifically you know, immigrated from the South and moved to the North, you know, for more opportunity for themselves and for their children.
So anyway, you know, my dad, while he had a college degree as I said and worked, you know, in business as a salesman and stuff, there was a hustler mentality to my dad, you know? It was like he was going to, he was going to get it done, he was going to you know, work two and three jobs if he had to and quite frankly, my mom would too, so there was, there was a real I don’t know how to describe it, you know, like a premium placed on upward mobility and it, you know, it wasn’t really, we didn’t think of it as wealth in my household.
They were trying to live the middle class American Dream, you know, that that thing that was kind of newly available to Black people, yeah, my parents wanted a piece of that for themselves and for us, for their kids.[Michael Liersch:] And so when you think about that, Leslie, when you ultimately at some point decided on the path that you’ve taken as you know, a professional we can call it actor, entertainer, singer, how did that, you know, that hustler mentality right, that your dad, that quote unquote, American Dream, middle class dream that you’re alluding to, how did that make your parents feel? I am curious for you to share that with our listeners. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] I think that there was a little, there was a little fear but my dad had had the same fear, you know, my grandfather had the same fear about my dad. My dad went to college for business and he tells the story, my grandfather was like, you know, you’re going to be a businessman, what if people stop buying stuff?
You know, but because my grandfather you know, my grandfather grew up working on a farm, and for him, the next step was, well I’m not going to work on a farm you know. So he worked in a factory for 30 years and my father was like, well I’m not going to work in a factory. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, there’s people that work in factories for generations. But this was just you know, the choices that my family had made and you know. And by the way, like all I want is my, I think about it all the time, like all I want and hope for is that my kids have an understanding of like farm life and what it’s like to grow, you know, food from the ground and it’s so funny, we’ve like, we’re turned back to that.
But, I think yeah, my father was a little, there was a little bit of fear around that at the beginning of like, you want to be a performer, you want to be an actor, you’re going to audition for things, well what if people stop hiring you?[Michael Liersch:] Sure. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] But yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t have that same fear, I understood his fear but I didn’t have it. [Michael Liersch:] So what, ultimately when you look back on it, gave you the courage to manage or power through that, because I’m, I would imagine, Leslie, we all see you in the spot you’re at today, award winning, successful, but I imagine there were ups and downs throughout that journey. Can you share with us some of those challenges or maybe some of those moments where you actually did waiver but you stuck with it? What are your thoughts? [Leslie Odom Jr.:] I think that you know, something else my dad taught me was from his, from his education as a businessman, he said to me one time I remember it, I never forgot, he said, I want you to be consciously competent. [Michael Liersch:] Consciously competent. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, he just, it was really important to him that I had a craft, that I had, that I wasn’t happening upon something, that I wasn’t, that I wasn’t going to find success based on my wits or however cute I was, I was 15-16 years old, you know what I mean? [Michael Liersch:] I do. [Leslie Odom Jr.:], Yeah, he wanted me to be able to replicate success, that I could, that if something was working, that I knew why it was working and that I knew how to do it again. So, I would say that for me, it’s not the same for everybody, but for me, training, training was a big, was a big deal. That was the way that I dealt with any kind of doubts that I had was that I, you know, if I practiced then I, and I took classes and I really developed an understanding of how to build something, you know, we call it, we call it craft, that I knew how to make something that on some level I could make sure that that things was always in demand.
And I didn’t know if that was going to be, I didn’t anticipate that that thing would be in demand in Hollywood or even on Broadway for that matter, you know, I just I hoped that I could find some theatre company, whether it was in Philadelphia or Chicago or, you know, somewhere, that I might be able to make good use of myself in a community, you know, as an artist, that I’d be able to teach and I’d be able to put on plays and stuff and make a respectable living as an artist somewhere.[Michael Liersch:] So when you think about that, it brings me to some reading I did about you, Leslie, and some of the interviews that you’ve done. You’ve talked about this idea of the importance of goal setting and naming what you want to accomplish and writing it down. And I don’t know if I’m getting that exactly right, but it sounds a bit like what you just described.
You described certain areas where you wanted to perform, you know, this idea of creating a sustainable lifestyle or making it based on that profession, you know, perfecting that craft. Are these all things that you named and wrote down ahead of time? Did you kind of happen upon them? What did that look like because people struggle with this idea of naming, writing it down, we get a lot of push back from our listeners because it scares them, Leslie. So what advice would you give them?[Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, you got to do it. [Michael Liersch:] Just do it. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, I would write the things down, you know, the bible says write the vision, make it plain, you know, I did write them down and it is a scary thing to do, you know, but you know, you have to have some courage, you got to have some courage when you are chasing a dream.
And so there have been a couple times in my life, and I wish it for everybody, there have been a couple of times in my life where I’ve had to dream a bigger dream for myself because something that I wrote down did happen, you know. And it was oh, my God, that is the realization of a childhood dream and I don’t know, I didn’t expect that thing to happen so soon.
I remember, you know, and I’m being totally honest with you, I didn’t anticipate being in television or movies or like you know, really in entertainment beyond to fact that I wanted to be in Rent on Broadway. That’s it. That was my wildest dream as a kid. And I went to an audition when I was 16 years old, and I got that show. I booked the show, I was 17 years old when I went into Rent on Broadway and that was my literal wildest dream and so what it forced me to do was to dream a bigger dream for myself.
And Hamilton was another one of those things, you know, I found myself standing in the center of my wildest dream and it took me awhile after that show, probably another year you know, where it was when I was like, what do I want now? I didn’t want anything else, you know? So, I wish it for everybody, it’s a really, it’s a powerful thing when it happens.[Michael Liersch:] So I love this idea and Leslie, I have to say, you know, just for all our listeners, we didn’t practice, rehearse, none of this is scripted, which I wasn’t expecting you to go in that direction, which is, you know, once you attain a goal, once you write it down and achieve it, you’re right, it’s not just the fear of not achieving, it’s once you do— [Leslie Odom Jr.:] That’s right. [Michael Liersch:] –what left is there? [Leslie Odom Jr.:] That’s right. [Michael Liersch:] And so when you think about that, I do want to give you some space to talk about you know, where you’re going and moving beyond even your professional passions. I know you do a lot of great work in helping share your thoughts, perspectives, and ideas, whether it’s business owners or you know, just human beings that you want to share information with to give them advice to help support what they want to accomplish in their lives. Do you have any words for people who are, you know, starting, running, struggling, and I want to talk about business owners in particular, because you talked about your family as business owners. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, yeah. [Michael Liersch:] Do you have any messages for them, just to encourage, and inspiration before we part ways, Leslie? [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Yeah, I you know, I look for ways to make good use of myself, you know, you and I were talking about yeah, business owners that, I partnered with Wells Fargo with this, the We Made a Way Fund that they have that’s available for small businesses if they need it. This has been an impossible time for small businesses and small business owners and so like everybody else, you know, I’m trying to figure out a way to keep my favorite little restaurants keep their doors open, to keep you know, the piano teacher that we love, you know, to online teaching, you know, all of us, we’re doing that, we’re trying to find a way that all of us can survive.
So, with this platform, with the resources that I have, every now and again if something comes across my desk that is something small or large, you know, something that I can do to shine light on something that I care about, it’s my pleasure to do, that’s what, at the end of the day, I want to be a good citizen, you know, for my neighbors, for my kids, you know. That’s what I’m trying to do.[Michael Liersch:] Well Leslie, thank you so much for your time today, I’m so grateful again for you joining the About Money Podcast, and I’m really excited that everyone’s going to listen to your words and take action based on all the great advice. I know it probably seems brief to you, but to many it’ll stick with them for a lifetime to come. So thank you so much. [Leslie Odom Jr.:] Thanks for having me, thanks for having me. [Michael Liersch:] Thank you.
That’s it for this episode of the About Money Podcast. Please email us with the topics that you would like us to address at AboutMoney@WellsFargo.com. And if you really liked the episode, share it with family, friends, and anyone who listens to podcasts.
About Money is produced by Wells Fargo. You can learn more about ways to work with us at WellsFargo.com forward slash About Money. I’m Michael Liersch, asking you to talk about money today.
The views expressed by Leslie Odom Jr. are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Wells Fargo and Company or its affiliates.
This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only.
|Investment and Insurance Products are:
Wells Fargo Private Bank provides products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
Wealth & Investment Management offers financial products and services through bank and brokerage affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.
Bank products and services are available through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.
Brokerage products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors, a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. offers various advisory and fiduciary products and services including discretionary portfolio management. Wells Fargo affiliates, including Financial Advisors of Wells Fargo Advisors, a separate non-bank affiliate, may be paid an ongoing or one-time referral fee in relation to clients referred to the bank. The bank is responsible for the day-to-day management of the account and for providing investment advice, investment management services and wealth management services to clients. The role of the Financial Advisor with respect to Bank products and services is limited to referral and relationship management services.
© 2021 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801 Equal Housing Lender.