Episode 20: Are You Brilliant But Broke?

Brilliant but broke

Feeling brilliant but broke? It’s exhausting, right?

So what’s the deal with making money? Why are some people wealthy, while others struggle?

Why do some people find a way to break through poverty, or at least do better than their own parents, and others totally flounder – or even lose any money they did have at one point.

What makes the difference? Is there a way to actually study this? It doesn’t seem to make sense, and surely it can’t all be about luck, right?

I know! Maybe it’s who they know. Yes! That’s it!

But wait. Walt Disney didn’t know anyone. Heck, for that matter, neither did my dad when he came to this country, or my husbands family, who all migrated from the Philippines. They certainly don’t qualify as brilliant but broke.

What about brilliance! That must be it! The smartest people, the best educated. They’re the once who break through and smash all the records.

Oh, wait. Zuck didn’t finish college, and he certainly moved into the upper stratuspheres of wealth. Like him or not, that’s a fact.

So, does that mean it’s all luck. It has to be. Scratch what I wrote above, this is all about who gets lucky and who doesn’t.

Ha ha…obviously I’m laughing at this now. It’s so not luck.

Being brilliant but broke certainly doesn’t feel lucky, and I’m sure those who break through don’t feel “lucky,” either.

I remember when my old business partner and I were feverishly working over a long (LONG) weekend to get our site ready for our Monday Morning Today Show appearance, we kept repeating to ourselves something Oprah says often:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

So damn. Even that doesn’t match up, does it. There’s a measure of serious work in “luck”.

My old business partner and I kept reminding each other of that as we warned our hosting company that our website would see a spike in traffic and we hired extra customer service support for the week.

We kept trying to think through what could go wrong, how could we be prepared for it and how could we course correct?

I was really proud of us that day, but I’ll tell you. I also learned that no matter of opportunity or luck could take the place of serious preparation and strategic thought.

Since that day, I’ve had countless women call me to work with me, and the number one question I hear is, “Will you teach me how to make money?” And I know what that means, they feel brilliant but broke.

The question almost always makes me smile (and I was using zoom way before it was trendy – thanks COVID – so they can always see me smile).

And my answer is always the same, “Of course I can.” Because I can. But it’s certainly not because some of them are brilliant and some of them aren’t.

See, there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path. (Thanks for that quote, Morpheus…if you don’t know who Morpheus is, don’t worry about it, just know that I’m a super geek and you may want to reconsider being my friend).

Being brilliant but broke is all about knowing what the path is, but not necessarily walking it.

I’ve noticed that I can two women the exact same tactics and tricks and tips, and they’ll have wildly different results. I think I’ve figure out why that is, and I’ll tell you all about it in today’s episode.

Let’s break that brilliant but broke pattern, shall we? Pop in those earphones and let’s do it.


  1. Cathy Chester on May 13, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I love this, Sarah! It really resonated. Of course, it did!

    • Sarah Walton on May 13, 2020 at 8:49 pm

      So glad Cathy! It’s an important one, but super hard to hear sometimes. Let’s do this! xo

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