A few weeks ago, me and my girls went to a poetry slam at Busboys and Poets . . . because that’s what you do when you’re young, urbane, black and in DC. That evening, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the poetic prowess of Shelly of Shelly Says So. She rocked the crowd with her rhymes and walked away with one of the top prizes. Thankfully, Shelly was kind enough to take out a few minutes to chat with Curvy CEO about her work, not only as a poet, but as a financial planner, college instructor and all-around superwoman. Check it out!
How did you get started with poetry?
We had an assignment in high school – to write a poem about yourself. I said my poem in front of the class and everyone had their mouths hanging open and told me, “That was so good!” I kept writing and performing throughout high school and college. And then I stopped. About a year ago, I decided to write a poem for my mother’s birthday and performed it at her party. From there started getting invited to different venues to perform publicly and now I have my own cd.
What are your favorite poems of yours?
“Big Girl Manifesto” – it’s important because there’s no one else who can or would dare to say those things and it means a lot to a lot of people in the audience. Regardless of their size, it makes them feel good – even the men. Every time I perform the poem, there are always men who co-sign on it.
Check out this clip of Shelly performing “Big Girl Manifesto” at Curves Rock Weekend in Baltimore!
What is the foundation of your confidence?
When I was younger, my parents allowed me to question things and voice my opinion. They allowed me to challenge them – especially my mother. This built a sense of confidence and sense of self within me – that my voice matters and I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been chubby all my life and I’ve always been confident. People treat you the way you present yourself. There were kids who smaller than me who got teased for their weight but I never did. I just didn’t present myself as someone who would accept it.
How has performing your poetry impacted you personally?
It has made me even more confident than I was before! I become more attractive because people see how confident I am.
What do you like to wear while performing?
It’s important to be comfortable – in order to put everything into it, it’s important to be comfortable. I also want to give “shape” – I like to serve a nice thick hourglass to the people. I do a lot of sexy pieces and I want to look sexy – I don’t feel like this detracts from my intelligence.
What advice would you give to a plus-size woman who is looking to increase her self-esteem?
You have to figure out what you really like about yourself and play on that. Everybody – even supermodels – has something that they feel insecure about.
In addition to being a poet, you are also an entrepreneur! Tell me about your other business ventures.
I do financial coaching – helping people get on the right path. I work with them on everything from basic budgeting to credit counseling to goal setting, like buying a home, etc. I also working with a lot of newly married couples – helping them merge their finances.
Check out Shelly’s financial planning business, New Money University!
How and why did you get into financial planning?
The reason I do what I do is because if you have a lot of resources, there are tons of people who want to work with you. But there is little out there for people with lesser resources. But people want to do the best they can with what they do have. I’ve always been interested in finance and I started off just helping friends. In fact, I helped a friend his credit score 100 points! He started to tell people and then they wanted my help. Eventually it was taking so much time that it made sense to turn it into a business. I have had my business for two years now.
In addition to all of this have a full-time day job in marketing. With my MBA, I have also taught college level finance classes.
What’s your worldview on business?
For me, it never was about business. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur; I think of myself as an educator. I have information and knowledge and if I can share and help you, then I will do that.
How do you do all that you do?
I do not waste a minute! I had to pull back on some of my activities – for instance, I gave up teaching. I always have my iPad with me and I’m always on EverNote. I write poems and have client meetings in the car! I stopped watching tv at some point earlier this year and I plan a lot. I look at my week ahead and see which days I can write and which days I can work on client materials.
What advice as far as advancing yourself in the career world?
Always network. Always be professional. Never be afraid to ask for what you want. I’ve asked for ridiculous things and gotten them, even though I tried to talk myself out of it. It’s important to not be afraid to ask the question – even if they say no, you don’t lose anything. There’s no possible loss!
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