“Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you. Ask yourself instead: What has been given to me? Ask: What do I have to give back? Then give it.”
— Cheryl Strayed ("Brave Enough")
I recently met with two energetic advocates for our community, David Anderson and Sherod Waite, otherwise known as The Moneywise Guys. They own Moneywise Wealth Management, a financial advising firm, and host The Moneywise Guys Radio Show, broadcast weekdays at KERN News Talk FM 96.1. The show makes finance approachable. It’s got a catchy intro, honest advice, personal anecdotes and helps break down complex financial topics.
They love Bakersfield, and it shows. I found myself inspired by their passion for our community and the direction in which they’ve steered their company. And they said something that really stuck with me. Part of their goal at Moneywise is to make this a better place, a place younger generations want to be as they grow into adults. It’s not the kind of visionary outlook you always hear from financial advisors. But David and Sherod aren’t really your typical finance nerds.
They want to use their business to help our economy grow, attract and retain the brightest talent and provide these future leaders with a thriving community. This forward-thinking mindset and proactive approach to business ownership is refreshing. Truth is, David and Sherod are driven-business owners but are also just normal parents. They understand that it’s good for kids to leave their hometown and that going away for a while creates more well-rounded adults, whether it be to experience the freedom to find oneself, chase a passion or pursue an opportunity. But like most parents, they don’t want their children to get educated and then keep running farther away from this place. After seeing their kids gain worldly experiences and education, I find that most happy Bakersfield parents are hoping that they at least consider moving back to their hometown to make a positive impact.
“The thing we’re most proud of with Moneywise," they agreed, "is it is truly a Bakersfield company. It’s founded here in Bakersfield; it helps people here in Bakersfield. [We] think Bakersfield has a bright future, not because it’s going to change from what it is. It’s already a beautiful place. It’s a charitable community. But we want our economy to grow; we want to provide our kids with the community that they want to live in. … Part of our goal here at Moneywise is to make this a better place, a place our kids want to be. And we believe that if you individually make good financial decisions, we’ll all be better off.”
And people are paying attention. Financial advisors can have a lot of impact in the community by helping people manage their finances and invest wisely so that our community will benefit. And finance experts with a passion and a popular podcast aired every weekday — now, that’s where influence turns powerful.
David and Sherod understand that if people make good financial decisions, we’ll all be better off. Our city’s vitality and sustainability relies on a collection of sound financial decisions - both individually and as a community.
The rising tide lifts all boats. It’s something I think a lot about, how we can best make the biggest positive societal impact and prepare our community to prosper into the future. This is why I advocate for a new era of community pride, diversification of our economy, and marketing our city in new ways that attract young professionals.
All of this is timely for the holiday season. It’s not just about improving our community for selfish reasons but also so that we can improve the lives of those less fortunate. The more successful and stable our community is, the more connected to each other and this place, the more we can/will want to help the poor and improve conditions for the impoverished right in our own backyard.
And millennials, generally considered those born in the 1980s and 1990s, are quickly becoming the primary working class generation, and soon will be leading or managing the majority of American companies. And while much has been written about what makes millennials tick in the professional sphere, the most fascinating difference is the group’s unique approach to community and giving.
Years ago, Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard University, wrote "Bowling Alone," a book that pointed out declining participation rates in bowling leagues and other social phenomena as a harbinger of civic engagement and volunteering. In noting an apparent decline in volunteering behavior, the Putnam book highlighted concern since volunteering is a very important mechanism for creating positive social change; it is how we solve our most intractable problems. The concern is that if Americans are less engaged in the public sphere, our society will suffer.
Over the last couple of decades we have transferred a lot former government services to the nonprofit sector, which depends on volunteers and philanthropy. Many segregate themselves into enclaves based on social class. If fewer of us are giving our money and time to community issues, our communities will no longer be able to thrive or even to solve the most basic problems when they occur.
But I would argue that this up-and-coming millennial generation — of which I am a part — is making a shift back to stronger community involvement. Perhaps we’ll help make up the difference. Millennials want more overlap between paid and volunteer work, less segmentation between career and community.
I am inspired to see more millennials moving to Bakersfield to enjoy the same blended life that we do. This is why my husband and I came back to our hometown in the first place and have been so happy here. We love that our work and community involvement overlap every day. Our business is so inextricably tied to our community, the line so visually blurred, that the two are really just one. We find the most joy in finding everyday ways to give back to this place that raised us and called us back home.
It is always encouraging to meet others, like David and Sharod, who feel the same way. Our community will thrive and prosper into the future when we all work to improve it through both the nonprofit and business sectors.
I encourage you to take some time this holiday season to think about how you can help make a better Bakersfield for your peers, for those less fortunate and for future generations. And let me know your thoughts. I’m excited to hear them.
• De Coeur Closes Shop: I was saddened to hear of owner Mai Gifford’s decision to accept a position with Next Restaurant (of Grant Achatz’s Alinea Group). She will be moving to Chicago in January and will work under the direction of Jenner Tomaska. Next has received 15 4-star reviews from the Chicago Tribune and won a James Beard Award. We wish her all the best in this new venture but will miss her delicate macarons, cheddar scallion scones and custom party cakes. Cheers and good luck, Mai!
Moving into the portion of her shop at 1818 G St. will be Better Bowls, a plant-based vegan bowl restaurant. And taking over the 1820 portion will be local coffee roaster, Rig City Roasting Co., which has partnered with De Coeur for the last three years.
On Cloud 9: Speaking of the caffeinated beverage, Cloud 9 Coffee, our local mobile coffee bar, is hosting a contest that could land one lucky winner a private party with free coffee (valued at over $400). For every $50-plus purchase in December at Cloud 9, guest are entered to win. The contest winner will be able to pick a date, and the mobile coffee truck with show up and serve coffee and other treats on their regular menu for an hour to a maximum of 25 people. Crossing my fingers that the lucky winner wants to invite their favorite Californian columnist to this party!
Anna Smith writes a weekly column about downtown Bakersfield. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.