Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Thomas.
Hi Michael, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My name is Dr. Michael G. Thomas Jr. I am the owner of Modom Solutions – a virtual financial coaching and public speaking service. I am also a lecturer in the financial planning department at the University of Georgia. My work is a blend of financial literacy and capability, neuroscience, and financial therapy. To get a better feel for my philosophy on personal finance, check out my Ted Talk – Financial Empathy: Understanding the Story Beneath the Numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hoM5ly2igk&t=258s)
I started Modom Solutions in 2015. The mission of Modom is to help Black households understand that money without wisdom is a liability – Modom is the combination of the words Money and Wisdom – through a process that leads with empathy, prioritizing connection, valuing wisdom, and optimizing money. And in that order. Money is not the main thing. It is the conduit to the main thing. We want nothing more than for the people we serve to experience money and wholeness simultaneously. Otherwise, people spend their entire life chasing the illusion that money can make them whole. It can’t.
So, to make a long story short, I started Modom Solutions to fill a need that I felt was lacking in my community at the time. But I did not want to provide traditional financial coaching services. I wanted to infuse everything I had learned about neuroscience, psychology, marketing, systems theory, and social capital to provide a superior service focused on sustainable behavioral change. We believe most people know what they need to do. They need help creating realistic systems to achieve their financial goals. Sometimes people need information. Other times they need information. And, sometimes, people need emotional support and a listening ear. My work involves more listening than anything. My client is the expert. I take my geeky fascination with personal finance and multifaceted notions of well-being to create an optimal financial strategy for the client I serve.
I hope that I will have played a small part in helping the Black community and other underserved populations experience what it feels like to make financial decisions without external and internal stress – the money and wholeness concept I mentioned earlier.
The only thing that I’d like to add is that I wanted to create a business that I could pass off to my sister and use as a model of equipping Black women with providing compassionate and competent financial coaching services within the Black community. Unfortunately, my sister was murdered in 2015 by her ex-boyfriend and father of her three children. The motif of the murder was financial difficulties. So, this work for me is very personal. I see helping people with their money as a form of aiding in improving mental health and decreasing intimate partner violence as well as assisting people to achieve their financial goals.
Again, money is not the main thing for me. Helping people achieve a healthy relationship with self, family/friends, and community in the context of money is the main thing.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Working on building a business is never a smooth road. It’s not supposed to be when the only thing you have control over is your action. Everything else is outside of your control. I think of operating a business as being a servant leader. It’s the ultimate form of service. It’s your business, but the business isn’t about you. It has to be about the people you serve. The people you hope will exchange their precious time and money for something of value. Honestly, being a business owner is a huge responsibility. If money is regarded as a form of currency, you can’t make money without trust. Because distrust will disrupt the current from which money flows.
My biggest struggle with my business has been trusting myself. I still struggle with imposter syndrome and am constantly worrying about whether or not I am good enough despite all that I have accomplished as a professional. Affordability for my clients is also something I think about a lot. So, finding the balance between valuing my services appropriately and meeting the needs of the communities I desire to serve have been something I am constantly working on. To overcome this, I do market research on social media platforms to understand what my intended consumer views as value and what they are willing to pay. I’ve used this process to tweak my service offerings to meet people where they are and to ensure that I have a viable business model that works for me. Given that I teach full-time at UGA, I can be a bit more flexible than I could be if I were doing this full-time.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Modom Solutions?
Modom Solutions is a virtual financial platform that focuses a lot on our emotional vulnerabilities related to money. A therapist once told me that emotions signify that a person has an unmet need. In the words of Jay Z, “You can’t heal what don’t reveal.” Or, as we like to say, “Financial vulnerability is the optimal financial growth strategy.” There is a story behind the numbers of our clients, and we need to intimately understand that story or those stories before we can create an effective and sustainable financial strategy for the individual or household.
To make a long story short, we are different because 1.) I’ve been working in the financial services space since 2007, 2.) The approaches and strategies I use are backed by empirical research and years of actual practice, and 3.) As a lecturer and researcher at UGA, I don’t Google the stuff I teach my clients. I produce research and work that is being Googled by others. I hope that my saying this does not come off as sounding cocky. Again, I’ve spent so much time minimizing myself to make other people feel comfortable that I started to lose my sense of self about a year ago. So, the fact that I am making that comment is real growth for me.
As it relates to my services, I provide virtual individual and group financial counseling services as well as speaking engagements that help people understand the psychology of money, financial empathy / self-compassion, cash flow and debt management, investment, insurance, estate planning education, and family college planning services. Family college planning is considerable, especially in the Black community. It can be so overwhelming that families don’t have the capacity to value a college degree and the costs associated with that degree. Making an ill-informed college choice can have devastating consequences for intergenerational wealth creation.
We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I enjoy art and fashion. As a result, I started a TeeSpring page, Black Financial Culture, where I create apparel that shares important financial messages aimed at encouraging positive notions of Black Financial Culture.
Here is a link to the site: https://black-financial-culture.creator-spring.com/
- Individual and Group Sessions: $150 an Hour (per person)
- Virtual Speaking Engagements: $3,500 – $5,000
- In-person Speaking Engagements: $7,500 to $10,000 (Travel and Lodging included)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.ModomSolutions.com
- Instagram: @ModomSolutions
- Facebook: @ModomSolutions
- Youtube: @ModomSolutions
Cal Powell and Full of Grace Photography