By Fatima Gorezi
Robbie Mathews has an extraordinary track record. She has more than 40 years of experience in the Retail and Financial Services industry where she has won numerous awards in the US as well as international recognition for winning an‘Inspirational Global Woman Award’ in London in 2017. Today she is a ‘Financial Transformation Coach’, an ‘International Speaker’ and an ‘Author’ as well as co-Founder and President of ‘The Mathews Entrepreneur Group, Inc’ (TMEG), a company she founded with her husband Michael Mathews.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
First, and most importantly, I am a loving wife, a devoted mother and grandmother of ten, a dedicated sister, a supportive friend and a business woman. I didn’t have the “traditional” family white picket fence lifestyle that the American dream was based on. My childhood was more like that of an urban gypsy. My mother and I lived in 10 different apartments with various relatives and “friends” and I attended 8 different schools by the time I was 14.
My childhood was filled with gambling, alcohol, drugs and sex. On one hand, I was an aspiring entrepreneur back then. I would bring the gamblers cigarettes and alcohol and they would give me money. The more money they won, the bigger the tips. So I learned how to earn and spend money very early in life. On the other hand, I became a teenage mother and was homeless with two kids by the time I was 18. I had no high school diploma, no job and no money.
I didn’t have any role models during my childhood to set the proper examples, or anyone who I could go to for advice or protection. So, everything I did, I had to figure it out on my own. I developed an inner strength, resilience and adaptablity that allowed me to succeed and overcome obstacles despite my environment. Your past does not have to determine your future. Life is a series of choices. If you strive to always make positive choices the likelihood of the outcomes being positive greatly increases.
I eventually got my general education equivalency diploma (GED) from my local community centre. I went to trade school and obtained a computer programming certificate (I learned to program a computer using punch cards!). Armed with my certificate, I was able to secure good-paying jobs in corporate America which led to a fulfilling and prosperous 40 year career in the computer technology field.
Today, I am a successful global entrepreneur, a Financial Transformation Coach, an empowering international speaker, and an investor. I am the Editor and contributing writer for my husband Michael “Bart” Mathews’s book, “Financially Speaking: The Best Improvement Starts with Self-Improvement-Create Your Own Economic Stimulus Plan”.
I am also the co-author of a book and a participant in an upcoming PBS Television special both titled “Phenomenal Global Women”. Myself along with 10 other women from different countries, cultures and nationalities share our life stories, our journeys, and our experiences. Our mission is to inspire, motivate and empower all women around the world. And I am the President and co-founder of ‘The Mathews Entrepreneur Group, Inc.’ (www.tmeginc.com) founded in 2007 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois USA.
How did you start your journey as a global entrepreneur?
Although, Michael and I experienced completely different childhoods, we both experienced the same financial burdens due to lack of financial literacy education. In the Chicago Public School system, financial literacy education was not a priority when we were young. I am sad to say that financial literacy education is still not a priority in the USA or in most countries around the world.
So when we met and married, we both knew that through every financial adversity, there was also a financial seed of greatness. We did not worry about our past financial shortcomings, it was our present day financial literacy education and future, that became our new focus! We created our own financial plan for success which allowed both of us to retire early from the 9 to 5 rat race. We decided to share our financial transformation journey of success globally.
In 2007, my husband Michael Mathews, the CEO and co-founder, decided to write the first edition of our book titled ‘Financially Speaking: The Best Improvement Starts with Self-Improvement’ while I was travelling extensively for business. He asked me to read the manuscript on one of my business trips abroad to London. To my surprise, it was a very informative and well-written book. His hidden talent as a writer came to the surface.
Inspired by our own personal financial journey, we became passionate about promoting and advocating inter-generational wealth: growing it, sustaining it, and passing healthy financial habits down to the next generation. Michael shared our personal financial shortcomings and the steps we took to get our financial house in order. Bad money habits were destroying the dreams and futures of individuals and families across the globe. It doesn’t matter what country you live in or which currency you use – US Dollar, South African Rand, Euro, or the British Pound, debt is a global problem.
By writing our book from a personal perspective, we hoped that others would see themselves in some of our situations and be more compelled to use some of the financial keys and resources provided throughout our book. I functioned as the Editor and content contributor. I learned how to self-publish the book. My entrepreneurial spirit was re-born.
Because of the global economic collapse in 2008, Michael and I began to enhance and expand the content of our first book to create the second edition. Our goal was to further help, educate and motivate the millions of people who lost their homes, jobs and savings and to empower them to take control of their personal finances. We re-published the second edition in 2016 with the sub-title “Create Your Own Economic Stimulus Plan”.
We also developed our seven principles that we live, preach, and teach. The principles are designed to help you achieve life-long financial security and stability. Each of the letters in the word “wealthy” represent a principle. People should believe that they can “LIVE W.E.A.L.T.H.Y.©”. One can accomplish anything with the proper mindset and plan. We have received numerous testimonials on how our book and principles helped our readers and clients to pay off debts and start saving. This is the cornerstone that formed the company’s financial education wings.
What has been your greatest achievement as an entrepreneur?
I believe that “to whom much is given, much is expected in return.” My greatest achievement is knowing that I have made and continue to make an actual difference to someone’s life. That I can give them the knowledge and tools needed for them to achieve their financial and life goals and to build a sustainable legacy for their family and community. A legacy is not just what you leave someone as an inheritance, it is what you leave inside of them that allows them to thrive.
What woman inspires you most – and why?
This is the most difficult question because I have and continue to admire many women who are in the spotlight and some that are not. Some have been my role models and mentors up close and some from afar. They all have had the most significant impact throughout my lifetime. They are all beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, fearless and generous women. I will be forever grateful to them.
In tribute to them, I will just list their names: Connie Lindsey, Mabel Tung, Linda Rinner, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Mirela Sula and my aunt Theola Campbell.
How do we, as women, steward power well?
While there are both men and women who wield power and influence around the globe in the past and today, it is women as a collective that will have the most significant and powerful impact on the world going forward. One of our natural instincts as women is nurturing. We take care of others. We sacrifice for others. We have shared goals. And we understand that once we set our minds to something, we will make it happen. There is a new paradigm emerging that is changing the world for the better and it’s being led by women.
In your opinion what will be the biggest challenge for women of the next generation?
Historically, the women’s movement has resulted in incremental waves of gains. However, with the new paradigm consisting of women stepping out and stepping up, the wave will be much larger and impactful. Unfortunately, there are still many rules of the game that women have not been privity to, so there will be lots of resistance and roadblocks put in place to maintain the status quo. Women need to re-write the rules in order to stand a chance to win the game or at least equalize the playing field. Our pencils (and tablets) are sharpened and ready.
What is next for you?
To continue to live life to the fullest. To continue to serve. To continue to grow our business. To speak, to teach and to coach on financial principles and empowerment globally. Our ultimate goal is to change how you think about your money, how you act with your money and how you feel about your money so you can ‘Get and Stay Debt-Free’, ‘Spend Guilt-Fre’e, ‘Live Financially Free’ and ‘Leave A Lega’cy!
Remember, the best improvement starts with self-improvement! Live Wealthy, Live Healthy!