Ep715: Manisha Thakor – Invest in Your Financial Health and Emotional Wealth

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Quick take

BIO: Manisha Thakor has worked in financial services for over 30 years, focusing on women’s economic empowerment.

STORY: From a very young age, Manisha equated her self-worth to her achievements. This led her to overwork herself almost to death—twice.

LEARNING: Don’t underestimate the incredible power of the net present value of your future earnings. Invest concurrently in your financial health and your emotional wealth.


“Investing concurrently in your financial health and your emotional wealth is the secret formula to maximizing the NPV of your potential future earning stream.”

Manisha Thakor


Guest profile

Manisha Thakor has worked in financial services for over 30 years with a focus on women’s economic empowerment. A nationally recognized thought leader around the issues of financial literacy and education, Manisha has been featured in national media such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Barron’s, CNN, and CNBC. She has written two personal finance books for women in their 20s and 30s. Her latest book MoneyZen: The Secret to Finding Your “Enough,” comes out on August 8th, 2023. Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Wellesley College. She also holds the CFA and CFP designations.

Worst investment ever

Growing up, Manisha lived in a small town in Indiana. Being mixed race, she got picked on a lot, particularly in grades four, five, and six. Those formative years put her on the search for a sense of belonging. The cheerleaders and football players didn’t like Manisha, but the teachers did because she worked hard and got good grades. So Manisha started getting endorphin high from teachers’ approvals and getting good grades. She kept studying and going after those grades because they made her feel whole and worth something in a way that she didn’t feel socially.

When Manisha entered finance, she realized there were no teachers or grades, just bosses and money. And so, she developed a profoundly toxic relationship with work, money, success, and accomplishments. Manisha had come to identify her self-worth in her school years with grades. In her professional years, Manisha placed her self-worth in her net worth. Because Manisha was so locked into her identity and sense of self-worth as her achievements at work, she didn’t have friends or hobbies. She worked seven days a week and traveled 40 weeks a year for a decade.

One day she was sitting on a plane and had tears streaming down her face. She had piles of paperwork on her small tray that she was trying to work on. All Manisha could think of was that she had no idea how she would make it through the next 48 hours of meetings because she had no energy left.

A lady sitting across from Manisha came and gave her this look like she knew what she was going through. The lady opened this expensive-looking silver pill case and pulled out three yellow pills. She handed them to Manisha and told her to take just half a pill. Manisha grabbed the pills like candy. She didn’t even ask what she was putting in her mouth. Turns out it was Valium, and it helped. Manisha was able to calm down. She took another pill the following day and made it through her meetings.

Manisha kept this life going until she had two near-death experiences. Both times Manisha wished she’d spent more time with family, that she’d not missed her grandmother’s funeral or the many weddings because she had meetings that were so important.

The second near-death experience was her big wake-up call. Manisha had reached this point where she could only stay awake for about five to six hours daily. She found out her body was attacking itself. It took Manisha nine months to get her energy back. During this period, she realized that she had spent the entirety of her adult life on this 24/7 hamster wheel of hustle culture. Manisha was so driven by this mental model of self-worth equals net worth that she didn’t understand the power of the net present value of her future earnings.

Lessons learned

  • What we have that’s entirely our own, and we have enormous control over, is our brain and how we use it to generate our future income.
  • Don’t underestimate the incredible power of the net present value of your future earnings. Always protect it.
  • Investing concurrently in your financial health and emotional wealth is the secret formula to maximizing the NPV of your potential future earning stream.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Don’t be internally driven to work seven days a week. Get away from that.
  • When pressure is on, step back and take time.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Manisha’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to achieve less.

Parting words


“If people think that this may be a problem for them, but they’re not quite sure, I put together a really fun quiz at MoneyZen.com. Check it out and see if you’ve gone down the rabbit hole. I want to help pull you out.”

Manisha Thakor


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk but to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives to join me go to my worst investment ever.com fellow risk takers this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a Stotz Academy and I'm here with featured guests, Manisha to core Manisha. Are you ready to join the mission?

Manisha Thakor 00:37
I'm ready to join the mission. Andrew.

Andrew Stotz 00:41
I'm excited to learn more about you but let me introduce you to the audience. Manisha has worked in financial services for over 30 years with his focus on women's in economic empowerment. A nationally recognized thought leader around the issues of financial literacy and education Manisha has been featured in national media such as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barron's, CNN and CNBC. She has written two personal finance books for women in their 20s and 30s. And her latest book money Zen the secrets of finding your enough comes out on August 8 2023. MANISH earned her MBA in at from Harvard Business School her BA from Wellesley College and holds the CFA and CFP designation My goodness Manisha take a minute and tell us about the unique value that you bring into this wonderful world.

Manisha Thakor 01:34
Well, I think I have a lesson that can help hopefully many people of all ages, but I definitely know it is very applicable to those in their 20s and 30s. And it's a screw up that when I look back, and I run the NPV on it, I can see just how big it is. So let me set the stage a little bit. I am 53 now but growing up, I lived in a small town in Indiana, and I was mixed race and there weren't a lot of half Indian girls named Manisha in the Midwest. And growing up, I got picked on a lot, particularly in grades four, five, and six. And you might think, Well, what the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, it turns out that things that happened to us before age 25, are often called small t traumas. And when you look at them or talk about them, in retrospect, they can seem so miniscule, but they often drive us to engage in a pattern of behavior that ultimately can be very destructive. And that was the case with me, I look back and you know, today they'd call it bullying. And imagine it's only worse given social media. But those formative years put me on this path. And I wanted to find some place of belonging. And what I found was the cheerleaders and football players didn't like me, but the teachers did, because I worked hard and I got good grades. And so I started to get that you know, endorphin high from teachers approvals and getting grades. So you know, kept going, kept going, I kept studying going after those grades, because they made me feel whole and worth something in a way that I didn't feel socially. And so, I then proceed into you know, the world of finance and what happens there there are teachers in grades their bosses and money. And so, I just became, I became I developed ultimately, a profoundly toxic relationship with work, money, success, and accomplishments. Because for all the education I received, and all the accomplishments I was achieving in work, I had come to identify myself worth in my school years with grades and in my professional years with my net worth. And when you live your life to optimize the equation, self worth equals net worth, you can start doing some pretty dangerous things to yourself. And this is where some of the lessons of start to bubble up. So in my 30s, I can remember I was on a plane from Houston to New York, I was sitting in C, one B, I had pitched about six years earlier and idea to my boss, who at that time was the founder and owner of a firm that had 50 billion in assets under management. And it was an idea for new distribution channel. And the idea was, historically, our clients were institutional corporations, endowments, foundations, we managed a lot of pension money. And we had a great investment philosophy. And I wanted to bring it to individuals who couldn't afford our, you know, $50 million dollar minimums for institutional accounts. And so I pitched separately managed account business, and he said, Sure, go for it. And your resources. Yeah, throw yourself. Do what you can with it, kiddo. And so I started running and running and running. And because I was so locked into my identity and sense of self worth being my achievements at work, I didn't have friends, I didn't have hobbies, I worked seven days a week, I traveled 40 weeks a year, for a decade. I was on planes, just non stop. And so on this day, I'm sitting there in one in one B. And I have tears streaming down my face. And I have piles of paper on my small little tray in front of me that I'm trying to balance, like I'm an HPLC calculator that I'm trying to run my calculations on. And all I can think of is I have no idea on God's green earth, how I'm gonna make it through the next 48 hours of meetings because I have nothing left. And a woman. I'd noticed her before she was sitting back and forby. And I'd seen her industry conferences. She was so elegant and senior and you know, had what I call wealthy woman hair, perfectly coiffed. And you know, she was wearing this chanel shoes and the Armani suit. And I don't mean from the department store, I mean, like Armani from the botique. And she came and she gave me this look like she knew what I was going through. I didn't even know her name at this time. And she opened this silver pillowcase engraved, probably cardi a clearly really expensive. And she pulls out these three yellow pills. And she hands them to me, and she says, Take just a half to start. And then if you can tolerate it, you can take a whole one tomorrow. And I mean, I just grabbed at it like candy. And it helped. I was able to calm down. It took another one the next morning, I made it through my meetings. What I realized later was that I never even asked her what it was that I was putting in my mouth. It turned out it was Valium. And as I learned lots of folks in the financial services industry are no strangers to benzodiazepines, all sorts of anti anxiety drugs, many of which can be addictive over the long run. And but that was sort of my entree, I call into the cult of never enough where I learned, by example, that when you think you can't go on anymore, you do whatever you need to do you sacrifice, happiness, Family Health, you just keep going, going going. And I kept doing this until I had not one but two near death experiences. And I'll describe the most colorful one to you, which was I was I had been married, got divorced, because I was always working, which doesn't make for very good spouse. But my ex husband wasn't offered motorcyclists. And so we were in the wilds, literally in the jungle in Laos. And I was writing to up on the back of his motorcycle. Of course it was not looking around at the jungle because I had ear buds and I was listening to, you know, literally getting things done by David Allen on audio book as we're in the jungle. Our last day we're in VPN and capital city. And we have I've been very diligent about applying bug spray the entire time we were in the jungle. But the day we got back, I'm gonna go thank God and get back on my computer and start doing work. And I was out in a cafe and it was sweaty, and I didn't reapply as often as I typically would. And I got, I got it, yes. And it's called break bone fever for a reason. It literally feels like somebody is crushing your bones. But I didn't know it until I got back to the US. I happened to be in the southwest, doing a pitch a presentation. And I got back out. I hadn't been feeling good that day. But I thought, well, you know, often I'm not feeling well, because I sleep six hours a night and I work all the time. But I got to the car. And I just I started to feel woozy. And at this point, my ex and I were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And I literally have no memory of getting myself from outside that office complex to the airport in Houston onto the plane to the airport in Albuquerque, and taking the hour drive back to Santa Fe. When I arrived, I had 102 degree fever, and I pretty much collapsed. And I was taken to the small hospital in Santa Fe, where it never occurred to anybody there to ask me if I had recently been out of the country. So they have no idea what's wrong with me. And long story short, I had some exceptionally severe complications. So you get malaria or dengue and everything goes well, you feel horrible for a period of time, and then you're weak as you're recovering. But when you get complications, one of the big fears is organ failure. And that was the direction I was heading. And so it got I was in the hospital for seven or so days, and they finally said we need to call your family and, and so my family came. And I can remember this day just so clearly thinking, oh my god, it's true. At this point. I was in tremendous pain in a variety of different ways. But I in particular, remember I kept getting these deeply cold chills like a cartoon character. My teeth were chattering, jabbering chattering, I literally didn't know that teeth could truly chatter like that so much. And I was just shivering and tears started streaming down my face as I thought, Oh, my God did it's true. The cliche, you don't think I wished I had spent more time in the office? You don't. And I just remember thinking, you know how much I wish I'd spent more time with my family and how I wish I had missed my grandmother's funeral because I had meetings that were so important. I now can't even remember what they are. How many weddings have friends that never showed up for and then I took a turn and I started to get better. And it took no more than about 10 days. For me I'm still on bedrest to have my secretary back at my side planning how I'm going to maximize the next three months of bed rest and get back on the road again. And I'm telling this because you'd think I learned you'd you'd you'd think I'd understand. But I continued on this path for about another seven years when finally I got the big wake up call. Which was that I started to not be able

Andrew Stotz 14:41
to that was already a huge wake up call, ya know, for most people and that's like, that wasn't enough. All right, well, that's the big one.

Manisha Thakor 14:48
I got to this point where I literally could only stay awake about five to six hours a day. If I was I'm on the road doing a meeting, I would do the meeting and I'd have to go immediately back to the hotel and sleep to the next one. If I was in the office, I would meet with a client, then I'd go into the room where that was set aside for women to pump for breast milk, and I would curl up in a ball on the floor and lie down. Ultimately, it turned out, I develop these huge red welts all over my body everywhere, and it hurt, like my whole body felt like it was on fire. And it turned out I had severe inflammation, there's many ways to measure inflammation, one is called a set rate, set rate of one to 20 is normal, a set rate above 100 is indicative of tumor malignancy. And mine was 95. And after running all these tests, what they concluded was that my body was attacking itself. And because of the damage that the dang gay, and the complications had done, my body was literally starting to kill me. And it was the mother of all wake up calls, because this time, it took nine months in order for me to get my energy back. And what I realized, as I came out of that, and this was now at age 49, was to realize that I had spent the entirety of my adult life on this 24/7 hamster wheel of hustle culture. And because I was so driven, going back to my youth, by this mental model of self worth equals net worth. And the problem with that is that there's no end line to that, you just keep running and running. And the finish line keeps moving, you can always make more, always achieve more always bring in more business. And what I finally realized after nearly nine months of medical leave, and recuperation was that I had missed the biggest math mistake of my entire career. And I should have known this because I'm an investor, I understand the power of compounding, what I did not understand was the power of the net present value of our future earnings. And when you run yourself down to the bone the way I had, I was 50. And there was nothing left, nothing left in the tank. Now. At the same time, three, four of my girlfriend's had had become presidents or CEOs of large asset management firms with you know, as you might imagine, large salaries. The guy who sat in the row in front of me at Harvard Business School, well, his name's Andy Jassy, and he became the CEO of Amazon. And I'm sitting here, literally unable to put in the amount of energy and to maintain a job that goes up, put it differently. When I first came back, the level of work that I was doing, would pay me in a year, what I used to make in six weeks. And when I was making in the year, when I came back was still fine. You know, it was a very nice number. But the money that I was making it in my peak was a much bigger number. And even more than that, I was coming into my own in terms of my knowledge, and what my future earning potential could be, but I blew it up because I ran my engine out. And so one of the things I like to tell people, particularly in their early years, and particularly women, because I believe we're extra prone, especially when we're in very male dominated businesses to feel like we have to really extra prove ourselves, never make a mistake, always be the first one and always be the last one out. And, and the thing that I realized is, you may think what's going to make your life is some big investment. You're going to be the you know, the First one to have discovered, well, Amazon stock, you know, or you think you're gonna make some great investment with real estate or today, you know, you think you're gonna be brilliant around, you know, the crypto world. And what we have that is entirely our own. And we have enormous control over which of course, with most investments you don't have enormous control over is our brains and the way we use them to generate our future income. And when you underestimate the net present value of your future earnings, because you are running so fast, to maximize a toxic, but highly socially approved equation, like self worth equals net worth, you ultimately will smash into a wall at some point in some way, maybe it won't be a mosquito, maybe you won't end up with red welts on you, but something will come and stop you in your tracks. And not only will that cause you to leave money on the table, lower your return on investment, if you will, on your education and the time spent in those early years. But you leave emotional wealth on the table, because you never had any time to invest in that bucket that portion of your life. That same year that you know, when I was sick that that holiday season, I realized the only people who sent me holiday cards by this point were people I paid was like my hairdresser, the woman who cleaned my house, I mean, everybody else had dropped me off their holiday card list because I was a human doing. I was not a human being.

Andrew Stotz 22:09
I never heard that.

Manisha Thakor 22:11
It's we live in a culture. That tells us that the answer to whatever ails us can be solved with more, doing more, earning more, being more. And what I want young people and young women in particular to know is that investing concurrently in your financial health, and your emotional wealth, that is the secret formula to maximizing the NPV of your potential future earning stream. And when you don't invest in that emotional wealth bucket, which includes everything from taking care of yourself to having some hobbies to doing things outside of the workplace, and all you do and in the investment world. Because it's, it's the market is always open somewhere 24 hours a day you can be you can be active. And so, particularly in the investment world, I worry very much. And I want people in their 20s and 30s to avoid the mistake that I made. And not to underestimate the incredible power of the net present value of your future earnings and to be protecting that and think about the risk and that you're taking around that. Because the rewards can be great. If you do it right, which I didn't for the first 30 years.

Andrew Stotz 23:57
Wow. I think about the lyrics of a song that comes from one of the most iconic Albums of All Time, still top seller after many years and it says you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death. For all the obsessive people out there, you know, all of us, you know many of us have an obsessive streak. You know, this is a great example of how we can get on that roller coaster. And, you know, it's exciting in the beginning, but then it can terrorize you and you know I think my my take away from this too is that I went through addiction when I was young and that's what I you know When I heard about the pills, when you said about the pills, I thought about that. But luckily, I got into treatment and rehab at a young age. And I got clean and sober. And in the 12 step program when I was 17, I moved to Thailand when I was about 27. So I'd already been 10 years sober by the time I arrived, and now more than 40 years sober. So I built my whole career in, you know, in finance. I have my obsessions for sure. But the thing is, is that I never I never work past 6pm. And I was still voted number one analyst in Thailand, I was still Head of Research at the number one foreign broker at the time, and still had a very successful career. I mean, I worked a lot, I wouldn't deny it. I worked on Saturdays and Sundays, I taught a lot, because I enjoyed that. But the point is, for anybody listening to this, you do not have to, you know, it's internally driven. And if someone is externally driving you to work seven days a week, something's wrong, and you've got to get away from that. But for most of us, as you've just explained, you didn't tell anything about well, my boss said this, and I had to do this. No, it was all internally driven. And so that's the first thing I want everybody to think about is that you don't have to, you know, obsess now you. You mentioned, David Allen, and he was kind of the king of his book, you know, about getting things done. And you know, really, he was an he was a guest on episode number 394 on the podcast. And it's worth going back and listening to him because he talks about when pressure is on, step back and take time. And you also reminded me of one of my first guests episode 28 Brandon Gailey, who got a sickness that require that he sleep at least 12 hours a day, or he would die. And he had to really shape his life on only being able to work about four hours a day and take care of his family with the money that he generated from those four hours. And that's another episode that you know, you made me think about so, so many things, anything you would add to, to my, my observations?

Manisha Thakor 27:13
I would just say, Andrew, that this is highly common, I find amongst those of us in finance. But what happened to me, made me want to dive in and research. How do how do smart people like us end up doing this to ourselves? And how can we prevent it going forward. And that's the research I did to write my latest book. It is not a personal finance primer, man isn't the secret to finding your mouth is actually a combination of my journey, which I go into in much more raw and candid detail. Along with the journey of many other people who have struggled with this kind of never enough mindset around money, work accomplishments, you fill in the blank, and interdisciplinary experts. And it is what I found out was that there are so many paths that can lead us to this point. And almost all of them are internally generated. And toll you understand that all the sorts of things that you you hear wellness at work, meditate, take deep breaths, walk in the grass, and, you know, read positive psychology books, those things aren't going to help you get balanced if you're out of balance what to, to solve the problem of why you are so internally driven to the point of making yourself ill you have to understand the root causes that can bring you there. And that's why I wrote this book. And that's what's helped transform my life is really seeing whether it's small t traumas or societal influences or cultural norms, or even evolutionary biological impacts. Those are the four big categories that tend to drive are never enough behaviors. If you want to make the most of the NPV of your future earnings, you want to avoid the mistakes that the mistake that I've described here and I think that's my next chapter in in life Andrew is to spread the message about helping people find their Enough, stop work at six like you, you still can accomplish wonderful things. You don't need to kill yourself

Andrew Stotz 29:56
more. Yeah, because you're not literally drawing yourself, you know, and

Manisha Thakor 30:02
that's the whole point. When you don't destroy yourself, you, you, you're at your best.

Andrew Stotz 30:08
Yep. So just for the listeners out there this is you know, a great resource and I'm just going to read something out of it. It's this that if you've ever thought it's never enough, or I'm never enough, when it comes to money, work or success, money Zen, is you're sure no matter your age, income or profession in today's fast paced status conscious world, it's all too easy to get sucked into the cult of never enough that painful place where no matter how much you earn, accomplish, Congressman's you achieve or praise you receive. You feel you can never do enough, have enough or be enough. Ladies and gentlemen, it's on I'm gonna have a link in the show notes and it's coming out on August eighth. Is that correct? That's right. Yep. And you can get it on. I see. You've got an audible and Kindle coming out. So get it on Amazon or other places. I'll have all the links in the show notes. Let me ask you Manisha. What is your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Manisha Thakor 31:12
To achieve less.

Andrew Stotz 31:18
Which seems like a you know, crazy goal. But for someone like you and someone like me and our obsessive behaviors, that is the ultimate challenge. Well, I want to thank you for coming on the show. And I also want to thank you for joining the mission. And on behalf of a Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Harvard has nothing on us. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Manisha Thakor 31:52
If people think that this may be a problem for them, but they're not quite sure, I put together a really fun quiz at money Zen quiz.com. Seven questions, check it out and see if you've gone down the rabbit hole yet. I want to help pull you out.

Andrew Stotz 32:11
Perfect and we'll have links to that in the show notes and everything else that we've talked about. That's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that. Today. We added one more person to our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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