weTHRIVE – Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Financial Planner and Owner of Hummingbird Wealth Management

After 27 years of working with a local community bank, I created Hummingbird Wealth Management. I created Hummingbird Wealth Management as a practice for clients and advisors that are seeking a firm that genuinely cares about them. I enjoy helping, educating, and supporting my clients through many of life’s challenges and transitions.
 
Over the years I have been able to assist many clients with the many transitions that life hands them – marriage, birth, college, death, and divorce. I am very patient and thorough with my clients, ensuring that no stone is unturned. I take pride in ensuring my clients are comfortable and regardless of their transition, can move on without concerns of their financial well-being.
 
After 27 years of working with a local community bank, Laura created Hummingbird Wealth Management. She created Hummingbird Wealth Management in 2013 as a practice for clients and advisors that are seeking a firm that genuinely cares about them. She enjoys helping, educating, and supporting her clients through many of life’s challenges and transitions.
 
Laura is a graduate of University of Maryland where she received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees. She also attended Georgetown University for her Financial Planning certification.
 
Laura lives with her husband and boys on a small farm in Libertytown, MD and in her spare time enjoys camping, boating, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities.

Learn more about Hummingbird Wealth Management

weTHRIVE Episode 7 Transcript

Casey Clark (00:00):

Hi everyone. And thank you so much for joining us on the weTHRIVE Podcast, where we share stories from entrepreneurs around the world, about how they’re creating an impactful legacy. I’m your host, Casey Clark founder and chief growth officer of C Clark consulting. And today I’m interviewing Laura Johnson, owner of hummingbird wealth management. Thank you so much, Laura, for joining us. It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest.

Laura Johnson

Thank you, Casey, for the opportunity.

Casey Clark

Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Laura Johnson

So, like you mentioned, I’m the owner of hummingbird wealth management. I am live here and operate our business out of Frederick County. Originally I was born in Amarillo, Texas moved to Maryland when I was a little child and spent some time in PG County, Montgomery County. And now I’m here in Frederick County. Absolutely love it. Been married to my husband for almost 29 years, happily for five, just kidding.

Laura Johnson(00:58):

I’m in the mother of three beautiful boys. I have a beautiful daughter-in-law and we have a grandchild coming in January, so I’m very excited. Ah, yeah. So I mean, and you know, mentioned that I’m the owner of hummingbird wealth management. I actually got started by accident. I worked for a financial institution down in Montgomery County, Sandy spring bank for 27 and a half years. And in the beginning of my career, the bank decided that they were going to start an investment program. And at the time I was the manager of their headquarters in only, and every day I was helping people every day. You know, I had clients coming in that had overdrafts or need a loan. And so I just saw the investment side of things as another tool in my tool belt to be able to help my clients to accomplish their goals.

Laura Johnson(01:56):

And so I proceeded to get my investment license licenses and continue to work with Sandy spring bank for a long time, until I eventually left in 2012 and created hummingbird wealth management. So that’s how I ended up here today. Awesome. So as you know, our podcast is called, we thrive. So what exactly does the word thrive mean to you? You know, it’s interesting that you’re asking me that question because, you know, if you had asked me this question 20 years ago, thrive would have been something totally different than it is today. I think with age and maturity and experience that absolutely does change it so thrive in the past for me, meant making as much money as possible and, and building my nest egg and my empire, although that’s, I don’t know what an empire is, but, but that what it meant to me.

Laura Johnson(02:51):

But today I think thriving and really probably for the last 10 or 12 years, what thriving means to me is making a difference, whether it be in my personal life or am I are in my business life is being able to take the time and really get to know the individual I’m helping, whether that be a client or friend or someone I just met on the street and really understanding their situation, whether it’s the same opinion I might have or, you know, we might have different religious backgrounds or political backgrounds, but to really taking the time to understand them and trying to help that person make a difference in their life. And so that’s really a benefit of, of what I do because a lot of people think is a financial advisor investments. You’re picking stocks, bonds, mutual funds, all that good stuff all day.

Laura Johnson(03:43):

And yeah, that is what I’m doing. But at the thrusts of what I’m doing is I’m helping people take the weight off their shoulders, maybe not completely, but partially to be able to dream again, you know, I meet so many clients that are, I’ll never retire and that just breaks my heart. You know, what do you mean you’ll never retire? Like, is that because you don’t want to, or because you don’t think you can you know, and in my personal life, you know, really taking the time to help out a friend in need or a stranger in need. And I think that’s what thriving means to me. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t want to grow. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to make money. Those things are important, but they really take a back seat to what, what fills my heart. So that’s what thriving means to me.

Casey Clark (04:29):

I love it. It’s like the epitome of what this podcast is about. I mean, I feel like as entrepreneurs, sometimes we get so caught up in, Oh, is my business making, you know, profit, whether that’s an increase in revenue or, you know, efficiencies. And sometimes we forget about the bigger picture. So it’s awesome.

Laura Johnson (04:51):

Yeah. And it’s Casey is what you’re saying is something that, that is that hits me as well because I do work with a lot of clients, but then I also look at my children. My children are 1922 and 26. And I’ve, I’ve raised them with the encouragement to follow your passion, not your paycheck and that by following your passion, the paycheck will come. But if you’re constantly looking for that job, that’s gonna make you, you know, $30,000 a year, more than what you’re doing now at somewhere in there, you’re losing your why, why am I doing this? And you’re only wise to pay your bills. You may, because you get kind of hung up in that. And I do the same thing with my clients is like, well, you know, I’m, you know, I’ve had clients that say to me, I’m thinking about doing this business. And I’m like, that’s great. Talk to me about that. Where’s your passion? What is it? What is it that excites you about that? And I think a lot of times people just lose sight of that. So absolutely

Laura Johnson (05:55):

Sometimes it’s really easy to lose when we start to have some struggles.

Casey Clark (06:05):

So what are some things that you faced as you have tried to thrive personally and professionally?

Laura Johnson (06:13):

The struggles we have, you know,

Laura Johnson (06:16):

Absolutely nothing. Nothing has gotten in my way. I’m just kidding. I mean, you know, we have daily,

So, like you said, personal struggles, we’ve had professional struggles along the way. I think it’s what, what we do when those struggles we’re faced with those struggles. One of the struggles is I’m a woman I had and you know, this is a man’s business. 7% of financial advisors are women. And that’s huge. It affects me not only when I’m meeting with clients, but also when I go to big corporate meetings where there’s a whole bunch of financial advisors and I’m the only woman or one of them with five in the room I just don’t let it affect me. It’s like, I am, I’m just as smart as everybody, you know, I’m just, I’m just as compassionate with my clients. I’ve always been a big girl. So, you know, my weight’s always been a struggle. It’s something that I constantly monitor and try to do something about it, but, and I’m doing it for me though.

Laura Johnson (07:07):

I’m not doing it for my clients. I’m not doing it for my perspective clients or prospective partners. If they want to judge me by the color of my hair, my age, my sex, my weight, all that that’s on them. It’s not on me. So when I think about your question, though, there are two probably things that, that were big struggles for me. One is when I did work for the bank and I absolutely loved working for them. They were a huge benefit to my career and my growth as an, as a person. But one of the reasons I left was because I realized when I woke up every morning, I was more concerned about meeting their goals, not mine. And that, that battle in my mind went on for several years and I really wanted to be independent. But when you’ve worked somewhere for 27 and a half years, it’s, it’s hard.

Laura Johnson (08:05):

It’s like a marriage and you’re breaking up. And so that, that challenge definitely that was hard in the end. God took it into his own hands and said, Laura you’re meant to do something else. And after 27 and a half years with Sandy Spring Bank, I was terminated. And I see that as a positive in my life, not a challenge in my life because it gave me the opportunity to go off and do what it is I wanted to do, which is what I’ve created today. But I was so, you know, hung up in that ball and chain that I was associated with them. And I still love them. It’s not, you know, there’s no, no ill will there. I, I, I appreciate the fact that they let me go. But then when I got on my own here comes the new challenge. You know, I went from an environment where I worked for 27 and a half years.

Laura Johnson (08:53):

I was known in the environment. I was respected in this environment. I had teammates that I could turn to when I had questions or concerns or things. I just didn’t understand. I had a support system. And then it came out here on my own. It was large Johnson, hummingbird wealth management. I didn’t have a partner. I didn’t have an assistant. I didn’t have employees. I had, I didn’t even have clients. And that, that was a very depressing, dark place to be in. And it probably took me three months to figure out that this was not going to work. I’m a very social person and I need that support system. So I started reaching out to every networking group, known to man to find a place for me. And I was predominantly looking for places that were more women oriented than anything. But I was like, I don’t care, BNI.

Laura Johnson (09:48):

Sure. Women’s business network group. Sure. Women’s council realtor. Sure. I am. I’m in, where do you want me? I need, I need this interaction. So those were probably the two biggest, but I mean, realistically I think that we all face some kind of challenge every day. And in the end, it’s how you handle that challenge. There’s only so much that I can control and the opinions of other people I can control to the extent that I’m, I, I deliver what I promise. I, you know, I have high morals. I’ve had I ethics, I have high values. I’m a friendly person, but not, everybody’s gonna like me any more than anybody’s gonna not, everybody’s going to like my husband or my kids. It’s just, you know, it’s just human nature. And so if I can’t control it, I can’t control it. I don’t get myself all festered and worried about it. But I focus on me. I focus on my clients. And so I know I went in a lot of circles there, but

Casey Clark (10:48):

That’s absolutely fine. I love it. And you definitely gave us some nuggets there. So with, you know, talking about how you were able to overcome that, what are some of the resources that you use on maybe even a daily basis to get over those dailies?

Laura Johnson (11:06):

So one of the challenges of working from home is the distraction of, yeah. So like for the first three months I showed up in sweat pants and tee shirts and just went to work. So that was one of the biggest challenges. One of the biggest things I changed is I have a schedule, you know, I’m in the office sometimes as early as like seven or seven 30, but no later than eight 30. And I have to leave my office. I set a schedule for what time I have to be out. It’s very easy to stay in here until nine, 10 o’clock at night. I allow myself to have those distractions, you know, I am home, I hear the dryer buzz and I’ll finish doing what I’m doing or finish the phone call. I’m doing, I go in, I switch laundry and I’m right back at work.

Casey Clark (11:51):

Occasionally I’ll have lunch with my not very often, but we do. But I think that the biggest, so that’s one of the resources is I developed some structure by developing that structure. What it allowed me to do is have more clear thoughts and a clear mind and know that I’m focusing on my, my company and my clients, which then allowed me the opportunity to say, okay, what do I need? What is it, what do I need? What does my company need? What do my clients need? And kind of developed either the products and services over time, increase my education over time. You know, we’re highly regulated, have all kinds of continuing education that we need to receive, but I focused in on, it’s not that I have to take it. It’s I want to take it. What is it that I need to learn in order to be a better business owner to be a better financial advisor for my clients to be a better boss?

Casey Clark (12:46):

So, you know, I, I sought out education in all kinds of forms, nothing you’re never too wise to learn. You’re never too old to learn. Like I said, I’ve been doing what I do for close to 30 years, but every day I’m learning something new. I mean, you can’t not learn something new. The market’s changed. COVID happens. Elections happen, all kinds of different things are impacting what it is that I do for a living. So I have to constantly educate whether that be, you know, reading a book. And I, nothing I do is really financially related. I have to do those things. So I, I seek out education in the form of communication, technology, marketing client service, those types of things are what I do. And so I do it through groups like women’s business network, as an example I belong to women’s council of realtors.

Casey Clark (13:41):

I go to a BNI meeting where I’m learning all kinds of different things from all these different companies. And I take a course here and there when I can last year, I haven’t you know, Frederick community college etiquette class. I took edit so bad story of myself. God bless my mother. She passed away about a year ago and she took me when we were campfire girls. So this is something different than girl Scouts. We went to an etiquette class where we learned how to walk properly and how to hold our head properly, how to set a table, please. And thank you. But so you would think she was that old school, a woman’s place, but no, she also taught me how to run a business and how to write contracts and how to demand what you’re worth. Because my mother, she was a licensed childcare provider for 30 years out of her home.

Laura Johnson (14:35):

And she wasn’t your typical babysitter. She was a business woman. So I obviously got off track there, but I’ve, you know, I’m constantly trying to, to smooth my edges and expand my and it’s no matter what. So when it comes to education, this is the other thing I’ve learned too, is that every, so as an example, every year, my broker dealer offers a, a sales conference. And so many times I’ve heard people at these sales conferences saying, this is a waste of my time. Nobody’s telling me anything new. And I’m like, but that’s why it’s not. That’s why it’s worth your time. Because when you’re going in, you’re getting affirmation that what you’re doing is a good idea, because so many times what we do as business owners is we’ve been doing something for so long. We’re not recognizing that the value in it, or we’re not recognizing that, okay, maybe, maybe we need to change this up.

Laura Johnson (15:39):

And so a lot of times I’ll take that education to say, okay, this is what I’m doing, but maybe I need to tweak it this way. Or maybe I need to take tweak, not, not completely just get rid of it or continue to go forward, but it allows me the opportunity to grow sometimes in millimeters versus Myers. So, and you’re moving forward. I mean, that’s, the progress is progress. So you have to start moving in some way. Right? Exactly. Exactly. So you’ve mentioned the women’s counsel realtors and WPN and BNI.

Casey Clark (16:31):

So talk to me about how your relationships and the connections that you’ve made and just your experience are, you know, helping you create a legacy and tell me what a legacy is to you.

A loaded question.

Laura Johnson

Yeah. So my kids don’t want to do this for a living, so that legacy is not there. So and I’m glad for that. They’re, they’re following their passion. Like I asked them to do a legacy to me, I believe at this point would be that people acknowledge the impact that I had in their lives, both professionally and personally that I left some kind of footprint or stamp on them in some way, shape or form and not necessarily a big one, but enough of one, a nugget of information or a nugget of love or support that I was able to give them at some point in their life. I have a client in Colorado that I love him. Well, I love both of them. I love the husband and the wife. They are wonderful clients. And that’s the thing.

Laura Johnson (17:39):

I have a relationship probably with 95% of my clients and the other 5%. It’s just going to take some time because they’re brand new to me. But I worked with him probably 12 or 13 years ago. And he came to me or his wife came to me and said, I need a financial plan so we can help my husband understand why we can retire. And I, you know, got a little bit of information from them and said, you don’t need a financial plan. You know, I, and I charge a substantial amount of money for financial plans. And I was like, and this is, you know, part of who I am honest. I’m a book, I’m an open book, you read everything. I said, you don’t need a financial plan. And I said, you are in a position that you absolutely can retire. I said, just bring your husband and I’ll, I’ll explain it to him. She goes, no, he’s going to need a financial plan.I said, okay, I’ll do it.

Laura Johnson (18:35):

Neutral plan for you. I think I charged them 5% of what I normally charge because I was like, this is really cut and dry and sat down. So I took their information presented with five financial plan. Now, normally my financial plans are like this thick. I think theirs was like this big because it was really that open and cuts, open shut case. And so I presented it to him and he probably an hour and a half, two hours of questions and trying to poke holes. And I’m like, listen, this is really like, I didn’t need to do this financial plan. Let me, let me show you a piece of paper. And this is the way it’s gonna work. I mean, like really didn’t need to do this. So a year later he retired. And the whole year, are you sure? Are you sure?

Laura Johnson (19:19):

Well, six months after he retired, let’s let me take that back. Three months after they retired, they moved back to Colorado. We lived here in state of Maryland and went back to Colorado where their children, she had children, he had children, but their children live there in Colorado three months after getting back to Colorado, they had four grandchildren between their children. Wow. Every year that I get on the phone with her, because she’s the primary decision maker. He goes, is that Laura. And he grabs the phone and he wants to have a conversation with me. And every single time we talk, he says to me, I need to think you talking to you. I’ve been working with this man for 13 years every year, like clockwork. He gets on that phone and thanks me for what I did. I didn’t do anything. This man worked his butt off.

Laura Johnson (20:10):

He saved for his future. He worked the right job to be able to retire, but he thinks me. And I think that that’s my legacy. Is that not him specifically, but in professional world that I have clients. If they’re able to take what’s on their shoulders and adjust it or remove it to be able to feel better about themselves and their futures and to be able to dream again, that would be my legacy personally. I, you know, I think my legacy would always be I’m, I’m there for you, whether your friend or foe I’ve, you know, I have a big heart. It’s got me in some uncomfortable position sometimes. You know, I have a big heart and I’m a big giver. And that’s, you know, I’ve helped raise a lot of children who are not mine. A lot of kids call me mom.

Laura Johnson (21:06):

But it’s, I think that would be the biggest legacy. So your part of your question was how do I use my experiences and my resources is that I, you know, I, I am not afraid to help people. I’m not afraid to answer questions. I don’t look at you and say, well, in order to answer this question, we need to sign a contract and you need to pay me $5,000. I’m not, you know, if we’re just having a simple conversation, you know, Laura, I’ve heard that I need to get life insurance, but I don’t know, is this really something I want to say? Sure. More than happy to sit down and have a conversation with you. And if you say to me, Hey, I’ve got a life insurance agent. That’s great. That’s awesome. And I think that’s that resource, there’s that old adage give what you want to receive or treat others as you want to be treated.

Laura Johnson (21:57):

I live by it. I really think that that, that goes a long way. So I got a lot of knowledge in this head. I can’t keep it all to myself, so I share it, but I think it’s not only what’s up here. It’s also what’s in here and I try to combine the two as much as possible. Absolutely. And being a BNI member myself, I feel like, I mean, when I listened to the giver’s gain comes to mind. Yeah. I felt like you truly embrace that. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And you can tell how passionate you are, like just listening to you through, you know, the duration of this. I’ve gotten goosebumps twice.

Laura Johnson (22:41):

There’s my legacy. I am very passionate about what I do. You know, I, I truly I truly believe that, you know, we have plans for our lives and then God directs us the way he wants to direct us. And, you know I don’t want to alarm anybody. I’m not a Jesus junkie, but I’ve had enough happen in my life to recognize that I’m in control, but really he’s in control. And me being terminated as an example from Sandy spring bank, after 27 and a half years, I mean, I, I was horrible. I was miserable. I was depressed. I was like, Whoa, it was like a death or a divorce. It was, it was horrible. But as soon as I woke up from that fog and realized the opportunity in front of me, I realized this wasn’t me, you know, and I’ve had many things happen in my life.

Laura Johnson (23:39):

That way I’ve had many things happen in my family’s life. That way that I think it’s important to have a plan, but you have to be flexible and recognize that sometimes your plans need to be changed or just adjusted over time. And that’s the same attitude that I take with my clients is the attitude I take with my family. So the attitude I take with my life, you know, there’s, I could, I could take up all this time on your, on this interview to tell you all the times that my life has been impacted in that way. And I go, okay, well, and I tell people that I’m one of those people that God needs to take a crowbar to my head. I’m not real. I’m like, yeah, I think that’s you, but I’m just going to still keep doing this and then, you know, pow, all right, now you listening.

Laura Johnson (24:26):

Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I’m not in charge. So, but anyway, yeah, I’m passionate. Just, just because, well, you know, I’ve been, I’ve seen a lot in 30 years of helping clients. But that thrill, it never goes away of being able to look at a client and tell them we’re going to do this. We’re going to find a way to make this happen. You know, I work with a lot of widows and a lot of divorces. A lot of young people who are frightened that they are not going to be able to support a family given economic situations, or they’re afraid that they’ll never buy a new home and have a home of their own. I mean, so it’s, it’s everybody. I mean, I’ve seen people through birth, death and everything in between, and it’s just, it’s, I don’t want to say it’s a thrill.

Laura Johnson (25:25):

You know, I’m not a thrill of all. I am a thrill seeker, but not here. It’s not a thrill that I get, but it’s, it’s, it’s like, you know, I hold myself a little higher and pound my chest a little bit and say, I hope to make that happen. All the work was on them, but I helped to them. I helped them make, make them feel better about themselves and smile a little bit more. So that’s where my passion comes from. It’s from them. I love it. So you’ve given us a lot of nuggets so far, but do you have any particular nuggets that you’d like to share with our listeners that might help them thrive? So there’s a Ted talk on determine your why. I’m not even sure if that’s the way it’s told tall titled. But there is one and I watched that.

Laura Johnson (26:15):

I don’t know. It’s been a while. I want to say it was 10 years ago. It might’ve been longer. It might’ve been not so long. I’m old. So I don’t remember. But it was interesting when I watched it, my husband shared it with me cause I was like, I’ve been saying this, like, why does, why didn’t I think of doing a Ted talk and make all this money? You know, I have a lot of those, by the way, I’m like, how was doing that? Why didn’t I get an interview? And anyway I think knowing what your, why is, is so important, why everything, you know, why am I going to this college? Why am I studying this program in college? Why am I taking this job? Why am I wanting to start this business? You know? And, and this, again goes back to my, my beautiful boys is, is that, you know, following that passion and not the paycheck, your passion is your why, you know, my oldest son he’s a phenomenal salesperson and he gets that from me.

Laura Johnson (27:17):

And but, and I’m pausing for a second. The all three of my boys, since they were probably about five ish, years old, I knew what they were going to be when they grew up first up, I knew they were gonna be wonderful men, but as far as a career, I knew what they were going to be in some general sense, just fit, but I just had to wait for them to get there. And it’s, it’s so it’s such a blessing to watch that why it has always been, my oldest has always been into athletics and sports and motocross. So he currently is the manager of a local gym and is phenomenal. And so he’s followed that passion of athletics. My middle son was always towing things around in our backyard and I always thought he was going to be a tow truck driver. Well, he will be one day. But he’s a diesel mechanic. And so again, still in that same realm, my youngest boy has always been into law enforcement and military smart as a whip could do anything he wants, but his passion is law enforcement. And it’s him. I stop on if you ask him why, especially right now, why do you want to go in law enforcement?

Laura Johnson (28:39):

His answer is I want to make a difference and I’m going to get emotional, sorry, as a mom. Sorry. No, you’re fine. There. Good bumps again as a mom that is just scares the crap out of me that he wants to go into law enforcement, but his why he wants, he wants to make a difference in the community. He serves, he wants to be there to help people. But he also wants to be there to help the law enforcement officers of this world. He thinks like, I think that if you can impact one person you’ve impacted the world. And if he can make one person’s opinion, change that he’s done his job, all three of my children have why, but it’s that one that always gets me because that’s to me

Laura Johnson (29:42):

Very important for me, but to see that it’s become important for my child. I think that’s the most important nugget that I can share. So to get emotional, I appreciate your vulnerability. And I mean, that’s why I started this podcast. I wanted people to really dig deep and share, you know, what they truly believe. So I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share? No other thoughts except for, you know, I’m here. So if anybody needs something, whether it be professional and personal and just give us a call and we can see what we can do to help you out.

 

Casey Clark

Awesome. Well, I love how willing you are to help everyone. And like you said, you’re not like sign a contract and, you know, pay me $5,000. So you’re definitely a giver. It’s very obvious side. I would absolutely, you know, love to express my sincere gratitude for you for joining us and allowing our listeners to get a little inside look. And I’d also like to thank our sponsor, Stephen Lamar Moore, who created the music for our podcast. So thank you again, Laura. And it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Laura Johnson

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

Casey Clark

Absolutely.

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