“We need a world where people don’t believe a degree defines their success.” – Shireen Jaffer


Overview of the Episode

Why you should sort out your money mindset before raising fund?

I am excited to have on the show today Shireen Jaffer. She is the CEO/Founder of Edvo, a venture-backed EdTech company that has raised 2.9M, to help people think better and learn better. They have helped over 50K people navigate their careers and find meaningful work and have been recognised in Business Insider, Forbes, Fast Company, etc.

Before that, she started her first company, Skillify at 19, bootstrapped it as a solo woman founder to profitability and implemented it within 220+ high schools and colleges. As a serial entrepreneur and investor who love building businesses, Shireen believes that it is essential to empower people to think for themselves.

In this powerful conversation, she shares her success as well as her tribulations in raising money as a woman of colour. More importantly, she reveals the mindset shift she has to make about money to succeed and why she became an investor herself.

Here’s a snapshot of a few things we talked about

  • Shireen explains how she co-founded Edvo with her husband to fulfil their shared passion for changing the way education works.
  • Being around a lot of pain and frustration enabled her to develop strong empathy. Her purpose is to help people live the life they find joyful and find meaning in her entire career. She is passionate about helping people build the life they want and help them to contribute meaningfully into our world and in society.
  • It’s crucial to remove any limitations about money and to redefine your relationship with money before attempting to fundraise. Shireen shares some of the tough questions she has to ask herself to overcome her own beliefs
  • Powerful thinkers and problem solvers use hundreds of mental models, but they aren’t always presented in a user-friendly way. They are thinking framework that helps in decision making
  • The Circle of Competence mental model is used in investing. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger also use it. However, it can be used towards anything, not just investing. It’s a great way to verify what you genuinely know and to not act on what you think you know. It can be useful in deciding a career change, if you’re giving a TED talk to choose your topic, or anything else.
  • The First Principles thinking help to strip away any assumptions, any beliefs you might have that you don’t actually know are true and instead question things.
  • The Cost Analysis mental model is useful to decide to go ahead with an option versus another. It helped Shireen decide to start her first business rather than accepting a corporate job.

Shireen explains: “I had done an opportunity cost analysis when everyone was telling me to take a job offer in a corporate straight out of college. It made me see the cost of taking the job and giving up Skillify was greater than the cost of doing Skillify for one year and sacrificing the paycheck. So I did Skillify and it led me to meet former President Obama, to impact 50,000 people,  to create Edvo and to meet my husband.”

Fire Questions and Answers

If you have a laptop and $100 to start making money, what would you do?

I will make content.  I will sign up for Zencastr or zoom, a recording software for podcast. I would pay $10 a month for an automation email software, and email hundreds of people that inspire me and start recording interviews. Content is so important and if you want to make money from it, you can monetise it very easily because people genuinely want to learn from each other, and they want to feel inspired.

What is financial freedom for you?

Being able to do what I want, when I want, where I want, and when I want and who I want. That is financial freedom.

What is your definition of meaningful work and meaningful life?

No matter what type of work you do, it’s going to be difficult. But when I wake up every day, and truly deeply, I feel this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s my definition of meaningful work. And I have to say, for me, meaningful work has changed. At that moment you wake up, you’ll know if your work is meaningful or not for you.

Meaningful life:  I have good, beautiful energy around me, good people. I have financial freedom, that’s really important. I have freedom from limits. So meaningful life is just really being able to feel aligned with myself and feel proud of myself and what I can bring into the world.

The last piece of guidance to do more meaningful work and live a meaningful life.

There’s a really good quote by Margaret Young that says: “You must first be who you really are then do what you need to do in order to have what you want.”

Most people think: when I have money, I will do my own business and then I will be this entrepreneur. When I have friends who are active, then I will do active things and be this active person versus flipping around.  Be what you want to be, Do those things that you think that person would do and then Have the things that that person would have.

So, my advice is just rewire that in yourself: Be Do Have. And the way that would work for example with the friends is: Be the active person, go do those adventurous, active things, and you’ll have the friends who are active; that then amplify you being an active person.

Be the entrepreneur and then do the things you believe an entrepreneur does that you want to do. And then all of a sudden, you’re recognised, you have a business, you have flexibility, you have the financial freedom. So the Be Do Have is something I recommend for everybody.

Quotes by Shireen Jaffer

  • We need a world where people don’t believe a degree defines their success.
  • We need a world where anyone can learn anything they want comfortably, and they find joy in it.
  • Why people don’t want to invest in women of colour in education? It’s not that people don’t want to invest; the truth is there is a system that lacks the awareness, the processes and the foundation to give women of colour, the belief, the investment that they need to be successful. So, it’s a system problem.
  • Anyone can give you capital, but not anyone can co-create something with you. And that’s very important when you are raising money for your venture.
  • Mental models changed my life and investing, and my career, my mindset, my finances and  I know they’ll do that for you if you choose to learn them.
  • If you choose to be part of a system that has a certain set of beliefs, you are going to embody those beliefs. We need to empower people to break out of the system


Action points

What is your key takeaway from this episode? What are you committed to doing today to find more meaning in your work and live a more meaningful life? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

  • If you are an entrepreneur with big ideas and a grand vision who struggle to attract your ideal clients and yearning to make an impact in the lives of thousands, apply to get a complimentary mini-brand audit call with me today 

  • Buy the book Personal branding in the digital age: How to become a known expert, thrive and make a difference in the connected world – it’s available on Amazon, iTunes, Audible as eBook, audiobook and paperback

Join the ‘Discover Your Passion’ 5-day Challenge for Professionals, Entrepreneurs and Executives today

Starting Monday 14th September.

Reset your life priorities as we work together to discover what truly lights you up in 5 days, so you can achieve a lifestyle you love.

Connect with Beleyi the host of the show



Subscribe to the Meaningful Work, Meaningful Life Podcast



Help Me Share this Podcast with Many More People

Use one the buttons below to share with friends and colleagues.