The Real Story

Many people know me as a finance professional. It’s how I spent over half of my life. I studied math and economics in college, began my career on Wall Street, and worked for more than two decades in the investment world.

For years, that was my story. 

It was my only story. It had to be. Because to prove myself in a competitive and male-dominated investment world, there was only room for one story—with every chapter supported by impressive stats and numbers.

This story is a sub-story to a much broader one. Yet it’s not one everyone knows.

My broader story begins when I was around 8 years old. At age 32, my mom decided she wanted to go to college to become a nurse. This was no small endeavor for a woman who never even had a chemistry class in high school and was a stay-at-home mom to two grade school kids.

My dad was not supportive. He couldn’t see her beyond her role as housewife. 

But my mom wanted an advanced education. A career. Her own money. Some sense of control over her life. To impact her family’s future.

While I stumbled through pre-teen transitions, my mom went to impressive lengths to achieve these goals. 

In the same week in 1984, I graduated from 8th grade, my parents finalized their divorce, and my mom graduated from college with a nursing degree. 

She didn’t love her first job. But three years later, she proudly invested her first $1000 in an investment account. She was investing her own money in her future. She made sure I knew this.

The stockbroker took his commission. And months later, my mom lost half of what was left in the October 1987 stock market crash.

Why did doing the right thing feel completely wrong?

That I chose a career in finance was no coincidence. 

I used to not share this story. First, I felt it wasn’t mine—it was my mom’s. And a “humble beginnings” story wasn’t useful as I tried to prove my worth as a young woman from the Midwest in the New York investment world. 

The truth is that I didn’t grasp the impact my mom’s story had on me until I was older.

It’s so clear now.

It’s the clue to why I’ve always been pulled to empowering girls & women in education, money and independence.

Today, it’s intentional work I do every day—whether it’s the organizations I advise and support, the women leaders I coach, the young women from around the world I mentor, and the people that join me in inspirational travel.

My two+ decade investment career wasn’t a diversion from my real story. It was me diving headfirst into a career, unknowingly writing the script.

As a coach, when people tell me that they don’t have a story, I push back.

I believe each of us has a story to tell, and that each story deserves to be told.

I believe past life decisions contain the clues to our real story. Harnessing our story is key to doing our best work and experiencing joy.

But to harness our story, we need to know our story.

Knowing our story is hard. We aren’t conditioned or trained to do so. 

In the investment world, I was literally trained in how to dress, act, and talk. And it looked something like a well-dressed 45 year-old white man from Connecticut.

I was the opposite of that “model of success.” 

It took me years to untrain. It happened when I started embracing my differences as strengths.

When asked for specifics, I offer four pieces of advice:

  • Weave in little parts of your own story when representing the products and services of an organization. Watch for new reactions.
  • Actively listen to how people introduce you, and to the questions they ask you. Weave favorite new phrases into your own narrative.
  • Collect your favorite inspirational stories of people you most admire who strive to better others and the world. Generously share them.
  • Periodically pause to feel how this all complements—or conflicts—with the story you tell of yourself. Tweak it continually. 

Years ago, I began weaving stories from my global travels into my international investing dialogues. I noticed that people glommed onto stories more than stats. It’s what they started asking me about.

Those introducing me didn’t emphasize my title, firm and certifications, but mentioned a memorable travel tale. I moved from feeling uncomfortable about it to embracing it.

I regularly told inspirational stories about girls around the world striving for an education and the leaders and organizations supporting them. People connected to them. It made me different; it made me memorable. I loved hearing my stories repeated by others. It inspired me to begin sharing my own childhood education story—and my mom’s story.

It ultimately led me to step aside from the investment world to a new career.

My work today—coaching and curating travel experiences—is immersed in storytelling. I’m passionate about helping each of us do a better job of it.

I’ve changed the story I tell myself and share with others.

It’s the real story.

So what’s yours?

To hear more on my real story, enjoy “Jodi’s Story: How You Can Find A New Career Later In Life” on the Charles Schwab Financial Decoder Podcast.

Need help defining and amplifying your story and version of success? That’s my mission as a Success Coach. I’d love to partner with you.

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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!