This interview took place on June 12, 2020.
La'Shonda has been my CFO for several years now. Like many of my business colleagues, we met online in a business class, and she traveled to Nashville to one of my in-person workshops a few years ago. With the pandemic, she's been working solely from home.
La’Shonda DeBrew is the CEO of DeBrew Enterprises, Inc. and founder of the Wealth Institute and the Wealthcheck 360 System™. Known as the Wealth-Creator, La’Shonda works with clients to increase their worth, while decreasing their work. Her passion and proficiency are in saving clients time, money, and energy, so that they can make more, keep more, give more, and ultimately live more. She is one of the nation’s leading authorities in the areas of tax planning, revenue modeling, debt destruction, financial strategy, wealth-building, and helping small businesses to maximize their profits.
La’Shonda’s calling and passion are working with driven, excuse-free entrepreneurs who struggle with finding financial peace; through coaching her clients she enables them to live in financial freedom and establish their path to wealth.
Sally Hendrick (00:09):
News stories were coming in about this strange virus in Wuhan China. It was weeks before we saw the first cases in the US as the numbers went up each day. My curiosity got the best of me, and I started plotting the curves here's stories from real people all over the world and how they've responded. I'm Sally Hendrick, founder of Shout Your Cause, and this is COVID-19 the world responds.
Sally Hendrick (00:39):
Hey, LeShonda DeBrew. How are you doing today?
LaShonda DeBrew (00:43):
Fine and good. How you doing Sally?
Sally Hendrick (00:45):
Good. I wanted to talk to you today because we've been working together, known each other for several years now, and we met online, which is pretty cool. Tell me a little bit about what you do, where you live, what you do, what you're into.
LaShonda DeBrew (01:03):
So I am LaShonda Debrew, your virtual CFO, tech strategist, retirement specialist. I'm also a licensed insurance agent and what I do is help women navigate in their finances, help them basically stimulate their economy, create their own economy, monetize their skillset for the boss ladies, I helped them organize and streamline, automate their financial systems, their processes, you know, increase their profit by maximizing the tax deduction. Cool. Cool.
Sally Hendrick (01:42):
And where are you located
LaShonda DeBrew (01:44):
In Maryland? Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Sally Hendrick (01:47):
Upper Marlboro, Maryland. I never remember the city. I know you're, you're near Baltimore, but I never remember upper Marlboro for some reason.
LaShonda DeBrew (01:57):
Oh, okay. Yep. I'll come out of Maryland.
Sally Hendrick (02:00):
So how did you get into becoming the virtual CFO? Because you you have another job, right?
LaShonda DeBrew (02:10):
I do nine to five with the federal government. I do then with the federal government for over 30 years, actually. And my background is in finance. I've been in budgeting and finance, Oh my God. Over 25 years or so. I'm also CFO for a nonprofit organization. I've owned a income tax franchise. You know, I've been doing taxes for more than 20 years and finances just been my life and creating revenue strings. And basically me, you know, stimulating, stimulating my own economy has always been like my mission and my thing and helping women to monetize what they do. So this, so virtual CFO thing came about, of course, because one, I was trying to put everything under, like the one umbrella, what I did. And every time I started something new and was thinking about starting a business, you know, investing in real estate. Also I got licensed insurance, everything always still connected to the finance piece because that's, yeah, that was just me.
LaShonda DeBrew (03:22):
That's all I did. So I said, okay, how is it now? Once I came out of the retail space at the tax office and brought it home, this was back in 2016, 2015, 2016. I was thinking, okay, now that I'm at home, you know, I'm no longer handing out the flyers doing the door knob hangers and all of that stuff or whatever, how do I market this thing? How do I market my business? Right. And that's when the online thing was really getting big or whatever, but of course I didn't understand. It didn't know what it was. And that's where I met you when that one of the groups that we went in for brands, for marketing. And so virtual CFO, the CFO piece just came out one because again, I was the finance person and a CFO person for a nonprofit organization. But then that just fit for all that I did as far as the different things or whatever.
LaShonda DeBrew (04:16):
I was like, okay. It's like, I, I am a walking, finance you know, finance ministry expert by this department. I'm like that ad hoc finance department. Right.
Sally Hendrick (04:32):
So COVID-19 happened and the whole world just went a little bit crazy. So what happened with you, like when it came to your job, your home life, you know, your business, what, what started happening?
LaShonda DeBrew (04:50):
What, for me, fortunately, since I am with the government, it was just a matter now of them just going full time with the telework piece. So nothing stopped for me there. And because again, I I'm in the budget and the financial finance arena with that, we do business loans for the agriculture areas. So with that, when they came out with the cares act bill or whatever, then that was about us, you know, getting the money and the funding or whatever, to the different businesses and individuals who currently held financial loans, you know, in our area of the government.
LaShonda DeBrew (05:28):
So everything just ramped up even more. So for us at that point, I was already teleworking anyway, from that aspect. So nothing changed or had to shift for me mentally. When COVID came about for me to come home business wise, I was already virtual with that part. Then started that a few years ago and whatever. So nothing changed with that. So for me, things just really ramped up somewhat. And because, I mean, obviously I'm in taxes, taxes were due at first around that same time or whatever, but then they extended it. But because they gave out the strenuous funds, you know, and then they gave out, they were giving out money, the grant money and all of that things just more so picked up for me in that area, business wise for that and career wise for that. So it was just a matter of now me just I'm saying, okay, now just maintaining my focus, you know, and then with everything that was going on with COVID and you know, everybody being unsure, what was, what, and then I'm closing down the outside. It was just now me changing my frame of mind and just mentally trying to stay focused. You know,
Sally Hendrick (06:43):
What about your family, what changed with your family?
LaShonda DeBrew (06:48):
Yes. They both in college. My daughter's in beauty school. So of course they shifted came home. Beauty schools were not ready for online. Plus a part of their programs are hands on, but they were not ready because they had not been online. They weren't doing anything online. So it took them a few weeks to do that, but they came home. They obviously everybody came home. My son was in school, in Baltimore at Morgan that they closed that down. He came home, they went online. So then now household wise, my husband, he was for alone from his, because his is tied to contracts with the different companies or whatever he's private, but everybody came home. So for me, I was used to being in the house daily by myself. So now it's me now being home and getting used to the movement and everybody, and like, now that's a big adjustment.
LaShonda DeBrew (07:46):
Yeah. Moving about doing whatever, but now it's the whole lot. It was a whole lot more movement. And then they over, he's in another room having a meeting, but everybody got their computers up or whatever you hear and all this. So that took some getting used to with that part and shifted how I moved and what, you know, how I did what I did, because I would normally come get in my office. It was quiet, but then I had to start out, but, you know, move, I shifted and I started switching up rooms, like, okay, I'm gonna stay in my room for a while when I first wake up or, you know, coming into, because I still needed that quiet time for me to transition, you know, into Monday. So it just depends on what was going on for me during that day, as far as meetings and different things or whatever. And, you know, I just had to reprogram and redo how I moved about my day since now everybody was now home base. And then when it came to me doing the calls and things or whatever, it was like, okay, sending out a group text or whatever, I'm basically giving them my schedule. I got these calls, but they, so, you know, y'all this do that.
Sally Hendrick (08:56):
I had that yesterday. I was interviewing somebody for this. And everybody came in the door. We're like 10 minutes into it. And they were just being loud and just talk in and get an ice set.
LaShonda DeBrew (09:10):
Body is moving like, man, right, man, it's quiet. But normally nobody is, nobody is moving when they could be moving. Right. Nobody's then when I get on, Oh, they want to open the door and the doors, time, everything time. And I'm like, like now, like dabble, quiet for five hours now.
Sally Hendrick (09:29):
And now you're being loud while I'm on a call that's being recorded and online and whatever that may be
LaShonda DeBrew (09:37):
With with the husband now being home because he was, yeah, he, he does carpentry and different things like that. So he was used to being busy on his feet all day walking, which I'm sure your husband was too. I mean, that's the warehouse thing. He works in a warehouse environment. So he was used to move. So it's like, okay. I had to figure out projects for him to do it. And then he was coming up with some projects. Well, but it's like, I need to check with you because this is your house and you want this and that. And I'm looking like, like, I mean, so like my life just went to from like one to like 10, like instantly, because I'm like, okay, I gotta get this schedule together. That's you just do that.
Sally Hendrick (10:16):
I've never understood the sentiment when people say, Oh, the world is slowing down and we can all get to these projects.
Sally Hendrick (10:24):
I said, I'm just like, are you kidding me? I'm so busy. I can't even say straight.
LaShonda DeBrew (10:29):
Yeah. Right, right. But, but because we were isolated, this was the perfect time though, you know, to get some things done or whatever. And because then I had him here, he wasn't out the door, 10, 12 hours or what I was like, Oh, you know, whatever. And I was like, okay, we can get this done or whatever. But then of course that's shifted for me because then it was like, okay, because he couldn't do it by himself. He could, but he couldn't do it by himself. So it was like, can you pick this out? Can you look at this? Can you do that? I'm like, okay, I got enough to do right here. But you know, so that was interesting.
Sally Hendrick (11:04):
Now we've been talking lately because I know that you are starting to make a new offer in your virtual CFO business as a result of COVID regarding the payroll loans, the PPP, or what the SBA loans or whatever may be going on because people who have small businesses or, you know, are not used to working with an accountant all the time or whatever it is that they're doing. They are possibly either applying and getting these loans or or maybe they haven't yet, and they need some guidance on how to do it. Cause there's still some money left once they get it, they need to understand how to handle the money that the forgivable piece, they know how much that is versus how much they have to pay back as a loan. So you've, you've created some offers around that, haven't you?
LaShonda DeBrew (12:07):
I have, well, actually I didn't have to create any new offers. Like everything the offer is. So my service, my services are still the same. Right. It was just now of course, now putting that piece up front highlighting, they correct the paycheck protection thing. And basically since taxes, the tax deadline was extended, but everything surround was now surrounding the cares act and the funding and whatever for that, the conversation just turned to the PPP program and SBA loans you know, but he can economic income, disaster program and loans and grants and the paycheck protection program, the conversation and, you know, and all of that, the bus thing, just turn to towards that, right. That tax deadline and whatever, whatever, because that's really obviously where all the attention and everything was and where the stress and overwhelm was right there for my clients. And for individuals,
Sally Hendrick (13:13):
Now tax time's coming up, you're, you're going to be helping people get their taxes.
LaShonda DeBrew (13:20):
July 15. Yeah. So I'll be sending out a notice on them for that. Obviously getting everybody ready to upload the information for that. And just what the going back to the PPP. And it was now, it's just obviously helping business owners understand how to have their structure, their foundation, and everything sound in order to maximize the paycheck protection program. And in order for them to be in position to have that money, whatever it is, the maximum amount that they can have isolated for the grants speak together. That part could be forgiven, but most business owners did not understand because they just didn't know what they needed in order for that to happen. They did not know that, you know, the application process behind that, because you do have to apply for it to be for given. That's not automatic. They didn't know what documentation is, what was needed or will be needed, you know to what they did not know what documentation is needed to submit with the application in order to make the building.
LaShonda DeBrew (14:36):
So, yeah, I mean, they're just not aware of it. So that's just the type of information that I was working on leading out with along with my services to help them understand, okay. Remember, this is part two that we need to be talking about that you only need to be aware of. And thinking about since now some have been funded and for those that were not funded, it's like, okay, how do you now get in position for next? Another round comes out and, or whenever this does come about to happen again, because this is why you need it to have a structure in place. This is why you needed to have a bank account. You know, you don't have all that ready to go. You can't get one position. And it's like, you know, let's not be behind the eight ball and always stay ready. So you don't have to get ready. And, you know, for a lot of people, you know, they did not know why they needed to have a formal structure set up because they didn't see the advantage to it. But these are the times now when you see how it would work for your hot works for you, you know, outside of just having the business set up separate from you, period, you know, which everybody should do. Just from a stability standpoint and to have having not personally tied to you as an individual
Sally Hendrick (15:56):
Now with all of the news right now of this coming back and ramping up, which we knew that was going to happen, but of course, once it starts happening and you actually see it, it really changes the way that you're thinking about it. It feels like, you know, we were shut down for a while and then everything started kind of opening up a little bit. And then now we're starting to see the news about, Oh, okay, she's back on his back. You know, what are your personal concerns about this
LaShonda DeBrew (16:29):
Personally? Well, what my thing is, I'm just, I'm staying inside or whatever. I mean, I'm still going out, but I'm still, you know, taking the same precautions and you know, here in Maryland or in our County, because our County still didn't open up as quickly as Maryland did, but we were doing it in phases. We're just now for us doing this recording, we in phase two, we wanted to phase two as a Monday with them opening up the gym, gymnasiums and salons and all of that. But even for me, I'm not going to visit the salon. I'm not going to, you know, I've been doing all of my self care stuff at home. Like I'm not going to those open spaces or whatever. I've been. I was doing grocery deliveries majority of the time, my daughter for the last two weeks she's been going out, but she goes out like her and my husband go out like at six o'clock in the morning, I'm not up in the morning.
LaShonda DeBrew (17:25):
So they go when nobody's in there, you know, or whatever. So as far as me in the way that I move, I'm still moving. Like it's still out there even though now we know too that you have to wear the mask wherever you go, period. But I'm just talking about, even the place is open up. I'm not going, you know, because like everyone is saying it hasn't gone anywhere. And as we can see, because when they open back up, folks are just rushing out there, just like, you know, like it was covered. Right. And you know, they in the crowds, they all up against each other. And then, you know, and yada, yada, yada, and he hit her home, like whatever y'all have at it,
Sally Hendrick (18:06):
The protest to that we've had not only did we have like Memorial day. And then before Memorial day, there were a lot of back to work protest, but now we've got the black lives matter protest and that whole movement going forward. And of course I did notice that a lot of people had masks on in the black lives matter protest, but they were still close to each other. And then just lots and lots of things have been happening to make it you know,
LaShonda DeBrew (18:37):
Yeah. I went out on Sunday. I did, I participated, I didn't go out on Saturday when everybody was down there because obviously you wouldn't be able to avoid anything. Sunday, it was still a little heavy, but not as heavy as it was on Saturday. And my thing was, I mean, I stayed on the sidewalks. I did, I got in the street, like when they had the open gaps and after like the massive group bypass or whatever. But again, my thing was okay, we do these, they have to remember and be aware, you know, that you know, you don't wanna, yeah. And you don't want to get caught up or whatever caught off guard, you know? So I was just, just trying to be very careful and aware of my surroundings and where we were or whatever. And it was, this was just a girlfriend. So we were just like, we want to participate. We want to go down. And we want to you know, participate in protest and all that, but we know COVID is still out there. Like, and she's like, I'm with you. I'm willing you. So we were just careful.
Sally Hendrick (19:35):
I went to as well, there was one, I can't remember what day it was. It was a Saturday one, I think. And I mean, I can't remember, but I walked down cause I lived downtown. So it's really close by for me. And I stayed back. I was like distancing, but I was filming and had my mask on and you know, it was such a peaceful protest. Our first protest, our first protest was peaceful, but then there was a little riffraff going on in the evening. And, and that was, you know, that was where the, the, the courthouse had been set on fire and lots of [inaudible].
Sally Hendrick (20:14):
Yeah. Well, I didn't go that, but I did record them coming down the street. Yes. That was when they looted the street, the business across the street. And I was really worried. They were going to hit our windows downstairs because as soon as they could get in this building here they'd have access to come right up to my front door. That's all it took. It was just working those windows or the door or whatever. And it was just kind of, you know, it was uneasy. You didn't really know what was happening and very beginning of all this, but then it seems like a lot of the the riffraff part of it, the rioting part of it, the looting part of it, at least here really died down. And then it was really more focused on here's the, here's the real protest, the people who really care and really want change and all of that going on.
Sally Hendrick (21:08):
And that happened in the most recent protest that I went to. And that's the one where I filmed the people coming through live and they were wearing masks, a lot of them and carrying signs and walking through the streets. But they think there were, there were 10,000 people at that one and that's really big for Nashville. I don't know how many actually, you know, what, they ended up thinking that it was, but it was, it was a good one. So, and there's been more since. They had another one that was like, Oh, and that was a Thursday night. That's why it was okay. The Saturday day one that came after that it was a hundred degrees outside. And I was just, thank you. I've already been doing my part on that and really talking about this whole thing. So what are your hopes for the future, knowing that it feels like the whole world has just kind of had this mental breakdown. What are your hopes for the future when we come out of COVID and come out of all of the social issues that we're having and all of these hopeful of reforms and things that are coming into play?
LaShonda DeBrew (22:25):
Well I guess like with most obviously we are, will, I'm hoping that we do see real change. We see things that, that are now coming out from the protests such as sort of like defunding, you know, some things or whatever, just moving money around, you know, shifting from the area of the policing, part of it which is speaking real loud right about now. But we moving money from there to other areas where it's been lacking and needed just as much that, that does go forward, that, that moves forward, that the positive change is coming out from the awareness of the long standing issues and the effect that it has had, you know, from all of this time, you know, that
LaShonda DeBrew (23:21):
Not just the folks as an open now, but they'll be open like forever, like, and that you will be sensitive to it, like for the long haul, not just, you know, doing this time right now, when everything gets highlighting and when everything obviously the magnitude of it is just so loud and so big right now that it's something that I don't know, it's like, you know, having just, not just the pockets and different groups that have segmented themselves, you know, to say, okay, yeah, we know we here and we're going to do whatever. And as long as we are doing it, we okay. It's like, I wish that, you know, it just goes through and reverberates through like the pockets of society, period, come back here. Right. Because, you know, as we know these things, they come up, you know, it snowballs and then, you know, you have whatever that's going on is brought to light, but then it dies down.
LaShonda DeBrew (24:21):
But then eventually everybody goes back to wherever they came from neighborhood pockets or whatever went the normal thing. Right. But now I'm taking it all the time. Correct. So I mean, I do see, and I'm sure a lot of us see change more changes this time around, we see how folks are going a little bit deeper than digging deeper. And some other things are coming up versus, you know, those times before, but I guess we are just, we're, it's like a wait and see type thing, like really, you know, we'll see if they really got it, like in fall to really, if they're really getting, if they really mean it, if they're really taking it to heart, you know, to want to change for themselves because that's the only way it can happen. And, you know, so for me, I just want, I would like to see where folks really want to change for themselves,
Sally Hendrick (25:12):
And everybody has their own change. They have to go through it's coming from all these different perspectives and angles. And it's not just about like this group changing or this group changing it's about each group digging into their stories and the stories around earth and the effects that those things had on them as children and vice versa and understanding, and being able to talk. And I really think it's going to be important for people to go back to their childhoods as well. And to address some, have some real conversations with them.
LaShonda DeBrew (25:49):
That's where it starts. I mean, obviously that's the way it starts. I mean, and so obviously, you know, in the words of it y'all have a yonder is like really doing their work, like doing the work, you know, which is, you know, where basically stems from, but each and every person, you know, from their childhood, either from how they were groomed, what they saw, you know, what, what they heard or whatever, and, or from the they're isolated issues that happen with them, you know, that affected, you know, how they grew up and how they perceive things, how they saw it and made them the way that they were. But you really have to deal with that. So I would like to see each individual deal with that, like actually take the time, which that's what COVID has given you that space to that is giving you that time. Let's do that and shut everything down around you. They give you the quietness to do that. Like, nobody should have, excuse me, nobody should have. Now folks will have an excuse because it may take some type of therapy or, you know, some help with doing that, talking it through. And of course you have
Sally Hendrick (27:02):
The journey, the journey is different timing for everyone, but there's going to be tools and ways of handling that. When you think about it, therapy's not for people who don't have the money to pay for it. And therapy's never been something that people who don't believe in it, whatever step into, and then the types of therapy we've always had available are not necessarily the right thing.
LaShonda DeBrew (27:29):
Sally Hendrick (27:30):
So there's other different, there's other ways of doing it. Some people can, can really move forward in their thinking, by discussion documentaries, learning history, really understanding, talking to people, talking to family members, talking to friends that that can be therapy in itself, just exploring
LaShonda DeBrew (27:54):
And being heard, being listened to, you know, correct. Yes. But the other part of that when you were, when you just said therapy, a lot of folks too, were going to therapy for the residue of what was coming up or what, what was happening based on the issues from childhood or whatever. So still they were not going back, digging in to what was causing you to do the thing you were doing that actually sent you to therapy. Like, okay, you would go to therapy for marital issues or whatever, you know, you haven't or whatever, but those issues that were coming up or that happened still, probably came from that individual's issues that they had as a child. Well, yeah, you dealing with whatever on the surface, you know, or like I said, the residue of what was coming up from the other issues, but you really didn't get deep down into whatever, which is how you you'll be married on you. You're remarried again and marry three, four, five times before you realize really it is and deal with you, but couldn't handle that. I know that.
Sally Hendrick (29:01):
All right. Well, anything else you want to share before we go?
LaShonda DeBrew (29:09):
Sally Hendrick (29:14):
We talked a little bit about everything, but Hey, that's, what's happening today, so, and I'm just trying to keep a documentation of it, nothing fancy, just having conversations and putting them out.
LaShonda DeBrew (29:26):
This is great. This is great. I mean, all of your your posts and, you know, your live, you, you're doing a great job at document and it really just, this is going to be awesome for your family
Sally Hendrick (29:41):
Too. Happy with me
LaShonda DeBrew (29:42):
Though. Not I'm sure not, but it's one way. It's my story. I know they can do it. You're sticking to it. Alright.
Sally Hendrick (30:00):
Well, good to talk with you today. LeShonda thank you so much. And if anybody wants to get in touch with the virtual CFO, just head over to that .com. All right.
LaShonda DeBrew (30:10):
Yeah. LaShondaDebrew.com. I have it. I just don't have that page yet, but no, I do have the the address though. [inaudible] Yeah.
Sally Hendrick (30:27):
Okay. Well, thank you very much and we'll talk soon.
LaShonda DeBrew (30:31):
Sally Hendrick (30:39):
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