"What makes business work is creating value. If you’re going into the business with the intention of not creating value, but of having it magically provide money for you, then you often make really bad choices."
-Ann Wilson, Author of The Wealth Chef

Can you give us a brief overview of what The Wealth Chef is?

Money is one of the most important ingredients we have to create and live an amazing life. Unfortunately most of us are never taught what to do with it to transform it into wealth and specifically assets which can keep on feeding the life we desire.

As I discovered on my own journey to financial freedom, being great with money and creating wealth is a learnt skill, just like cooking. When we want to cook something new we get a recipe and discover what ingredients are needed, the order they get added, the specific techniques we have to use and the tools we need. We then give the recipe a go, improving it and getting more skilled as we go along.

The process to break free from consumer debt, manage money successfully, invest and create wealth generating assets, protect ourselves and our wealth all follow a series of steps and processes just like a recipes and require an understanding of how the money works. By learning these recipes and apply them consistently in our lives, we get better and better at creating wealth heaven rather than money hell.

And so the term The Wealth Chef was born.

Using the analogy of cooking also helps bring money back into the realm of the possible, achievable and something everyone can be great at – removing the confusing jargon often associated with investing.

Through The Wealth Chef company and The Wealth Chef book I teach people how to become great Wealth Chefs too and achieve their own financial freedom. I help people master their money, showing them how to manage it, get out of debt, invest it and make it grow so their money can support them rather than enslave them.

Tell me more about your career before starting your business?

In the spirit of adventure, and rebelling against perceived boundaries of what is possible, I chose to study Civil Engineering and set off following the only recipe for wealth I had ever been taught – “Get a good education to get a good job, and work hard…hopefully at the end of a long career there will be something left over and I can do some of the things I really want to do.”

Despite being highly educated, I was completely financially illiterate and as a result found myself in my late 20s in a big debt hole with loans, credit cards and money drama. Like most of us, I never really understood compounding and building wealth instead of consuming it all and then some in the form of debt. I swore to myself I would figure out a better way.

By getting radical and putting my dreams first, I managed to break free from my consumer debt which freed me up to travel. On my first backpacking adventure I arrived in Hong Kong. Free of debt and having claimed back the ultimate freedom – freedom of choice I put my feelers out for a job and so began an amazing career in mega – infrastructure project delivery. I got to build railways all over the world and lived in Hong Kong, Australia, the USA, the UK (where I was Head of Civil Asset Management for the London Underground Upgrade Programme) and then back in South Africa in my final engineering role as GM Commercial for the largest infrastructure delivery programme in the country at the time making sure £8bn was spent effectively via a team of 200+ contract professionals,

My engineering career definitely contributed to my current work and also my life. One of the biggest skill sets I gained is being able to conceive a project, know what the end state needs to be and what it needs to do and then being able to to create it, by breaking it down into component parts. Creating financial freedom is exactly that, a project, and being able to break something down into bite size chunks and create a step-by-step plan to make it happen is key.

Another key skill is resilience and flexibility. Working on mega projects with multi billion Rand budgets and thousands of people inevitably brings with it surprises and challenges. No matter how good the initial plan is, you can never know everything up front and things will come along which require a new strategy or approach. Being comfortable knowing that you can and will need to adjust as you move along is so important and the most important thing is to start. I see many, many people getting stuck in analysis paralysis, fearful of taking action, like starting to invest in the stock market because they are waiting until the feel they have all the information. There is no such time and we learn by doing and adjust as we go along whilst focusing on the end goal.

What inspired you to start The Wealth Chef?

Having freed myself from debt I was determined never to feel so vulnerable and anxious about money again and whilst working in my engineering career started studying the world of investing and getting savvy with my money.

As I became better and better at managing and growing my own money, friends and family would ask me to help them too and I found myself talking more and more about this stuff and really enjoying being able to share and help. I then started introducing this work to my teams at work and realised just how big a need there was for financial education and how many people, no matter what they earned desperately needed help. Not because they are stupid but because we just aren’t taught this stuff.

Being financially empowered and helping others achieve the same became more and more of a passion. When I achieved my own financial freedom, I chose to continue in my engineering career for a few more years but more and more my true desire was to help others in this area of their wealth and so The Wealth Chef was born.

I knew I had a burning passion to help people achieve their own financial freedom, I had the skills to help and there is a massive demand and need for this – so it was more a case of I couldn’t not start it. The only question was the best way to do it, and that is when I decided to go the writing and online route so I could reach more people and make products and programmes that they could also access easily and supported their lifestyle.

How did you manage building it alongside your full time career?

Initially I thought creating wealth and my own financial freedom was a big bang event – something I had to do before I could get on with living the live I really wanted. I though it required me to take big risks and find that one business, one investment etc that would stock up my coffers. So I kissed a lot of money“frogs” in the early days, those get rich quick schemes that are all over the place and none of them turned into the wealth prince I hoped to find. But fortunately I also applied some of the “boring”solid investing and money management principles I learned about and discovered that there are only a handful of core ‘recipes’for wealth, which if learnt and consistently applied, Financial Freedom is guaranteed.

Creating wealth is a process, a way of being a great leader to your money and it’s made up of a series of great wealthy habits that need to be integrated into your life on a daily basis (like great heath) while you get on with living the life you want.

What’s been the biggest highlight?

Realising I am the greatest asset I have. Money is just an ingredient and I am the Chef. Whether I create money hell or wealth heaven is up to me – my skills, creativity, passion and dedication. I was making good progress in equity investing and investment property but things were going rather slowly and there were aspects of my life I wasn’t really enjoying but I thought – hey – that’s the way life is. I stumbled into the world of personal development and discovered I could master me – my mind and how I created my own reality. This lead to the most wonderful journey of self discovery and the more I mastered me, the faster my wealth grew. I realised that my self worth is not dependent on my net worth but paradoxically, the greater my self worth the faster my net worth grew. Personal Mastery is Wealth recipe number 5 for this reason.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

Resisting what society, advertising and the media tells us wealth is and what we all need to be successful, to be happy, to be loved. This has required (and still does) a strong internal sense of who I am and what is important to me. But, discovering that has also been the most rewarding.

You’re a published author, have been featured on International television and radio and have clients including The Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Fin24. What’s been your secret?

Firstly I think it is about having a big mission – something I believe in passionately outside of my own wellbeing. I want to help others live the greatest versions of their lives by teaching as many people as possible the recipes of abundant wealth and inspire them to create the financial prosperity they deserve.

Secondly it’s been about getting over my own fears and doubts of “who am I to do this”and doing it anyway.

Thirdly it’s been letting go of how it has to happen. Whether I get to speak to a group of 5 or 5000, it doesn’t matter to me. I know that if just one person changes their financial reality as a result of learning something from me, then I’ve made a difference.

What advice would you give to other women who dream of starting their own business?

Firstly – make sure you’ve got your money flows sorted, you have a solid financial foundation in place and a financial cushion to support you in the first year or so.

Secondly – Get really clear on WHY you want to have your own business. This is so important. Many people want to start a business as a way to make money. If money is the only motivation, it is likely to fail.

Thirdly – Focus on creating value. Every time I’ve seen someone create a business just to make money, with the ultimate intention of getting away from that business and its customers as quickly as possible, instead of moving towards that business and its customers, it fails.

What makes business work is creating value. If you’re going into the business with the intention of not creating value, but of having it magically provide money for you, then you often make really bad choices. So many times I’ve seen people pursue passive income, and end up having active losses instead. They just spend a lot of time and money trying to push responsibilities off on other people and having it not work.”

People who have become very wealthy through business have gotten very good at leveraging their time in their pursuit of creating value. They’ve done that by first creating value, and then automating the process of creating value, so they can scale and provide even more value to more and more people. But it starts with the fact that they already understand how to create value. They understand it so well, that they’re able to create that value and then automate and scale the process of creating more of it.

The majority of people I see who are interested in starting a business only for money often haven’t learned how to create value in the first place.

I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with millionaires and billionaire entrepreneurs. All of them could, theoretically, step away from the businesses they’ve created. Yet, they’re so passionate about their businesses and the value they’re creating in the world, they mostly choose not to.

They’ve leveraged their time in their quest to create more and more value. They choose to focus their efforts—often 12 hour days—on scaling to provide value to larger and larger audiences.

They’ve delegated, automated, streamlined, systematised, etc. Not with the intention of sitting on some beach somewhere for the rest of their lives and watching the money roll in, but with the intention of freeing up their time to create even more value that they’re inspired to create, either by leading that business to the next level of greatness and service to greater audiences, or by starting a new business.

If you make your choices based on, not ‘how can I get money for free?’but on, ‘What challenge can I put in front of my face that’s going to have me step up to be the kind of person I’d rather be?’you’re going to start to forget about wanting more income, and you’re going to start to focus on what purpose you truly want to create the world.

What’s next for you?

2015 is all about streamlining and systematising my business so I can help more people and deliver more value through my online training programmes. I’ve also got some very juicy trips planned doing lots of the other things I love to make sure my own tank is topped up enabling me to do even more.

What’s your favourite quote?

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”- Nelson Mandela

Author, speaker and trainer Ann Wilson was a high-flying civil engineer who turned herself into a self-made millionaire with a straightforward, jargon-free, supportive and fun approach to wealth – an approach that can help anyone become financially free. She teaches people to keep, invest and grow their money using her extensive business skills, which she gained through her international civil engineering career and her experiences as a NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer. To check out her book The Wealth Chef on Amazon, just click here

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