Paco de Leon - The Hell Yeah Group
Paco de Leon is the founder of The Hell Yeah Group, a firm that helps creatives not freak out about their finances. As someone in a traditional career who is surrounded by creatives, she saw a need in the market and filled it. The Hell Yeah Group’s website offers resources for creatives including online courses, a newsletter, and blog posts. She also hosts workshops locally and globally, and has a new course called “How Not to Freak Out About Finances” out now.
Website: The Hell Yeah Group
How did you get started/create your career path?
Whenever I get asked this question, I always make the joke that I studied finance and economics because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. While that’s partially true, I was really curious about the finance world. I choose that major in 2006, two years before the crash, when lots of stupid people were making lots of money. So I had to look under that curtain to try to understand how the hell that was going on.
I graduated the summer of 2008 - which still feels like a cosmic joke - and tricked a small business consulting and management firm into hiring me. At that job, I learned how businesses run day to day. I learned bookkeeping and how to understand financial statements in a real practical way. I eventually got bored and shifted to working for a boutique wealth management firm and was on track to be a financial planner. I really got a crash course in personal finances.
I was really, really lucky and fortunate to get the experience I got. I learned so much and I use what I learned every single day.
How did you choose to help creatives?
In college, I fell into a group of musicians because I played in a band and soon I found myself hanging out with mostly creatives. My wife runs an interior design firm and she’s a photographer. I just find that I prefer to hang out with people who are creative business owners. Something about that personality type is really fun to be around. They’re always making something exist in the world and I want to be a part of that. So when it came time to go off on my own, I started consulting and experimenting with different business models. I spent time asking the people I wanted to help what they needed help with. And then built the things they were asking for.
What are you most passionate about?
This is going to sound mad corny, but... life? I don’t know, passion comes and goes and the things I’m excited about constantly changes. So maybe I’m most passionate about that movement that life has.
What financial tool or financial advice do you have for freelancers and creative entrepreneurs?
From the gate, keep your business and personal finances separate. Keeping it separate will allow you to see things better and it’ll make filing tax less of a pain.
Take marketing seriously. Get good at. Listen to what your market says. If you ask them what they want, they’ll tell you. Then you just need to decide if you want to spend your life and energy making it.
Please discuss your newest online course: How To Not Freak Out About Finances.
This class is an online course. And it’s to help creative freelancers and entrepreneurs understand the world of finance and everything they should be doing to get their financial shit together. I’ve developed it over three years, teaching it at conferences locally and globally.
You provide a lot of resources on your site (worksheets, newsletter, blog, and workshop), how have you been able to find what people need?
Every person that signs up for my weekly Nerdletter will get an automatic email that asks them to please share their financial struggles with me. I read those and I take them very seriously. And if enough people ask for something, I’ll make it. It’s really that simple - it’s not easy, but it’s simple.
How does your community uplift you?
I’m in a community that makes me feel heard. Growing up as a little girl, I never felt like anyone cared about what I thought and now I’m still shocked that people are really, genuinely interested in my point of view and my philosophy.
Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on?
I’m developing a new day-long workshop called “Getting Laid + Getting Paid" with my friend and collaborate, Nina Beckhardt. It’s for creative service providers who get weird about money. We teach you how to navigate client relationships and we do it by looking through the lens of love, relationships and sex.
All photos via Paco de Leon