MoneyTalk With Papillon Luck, CEO/Founder of the 15th degree
In this Interview series, we want to feature amazing and inspiring women who are willing to talk about money. Our goal is to break the taboo around money, share experiences and learn from the community. Please read previous interviews here.
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My background is investment banking and start up hedge funds. My first job was at 19. I was desperate to start work, so at the end my first year, I left Kings College where I was studying Classical Archeology. I undertook a six-month course at Lucie Clayton finishing school and got my first job working in the marketing department on the trading floor of GNI (the futures and options broker). My second job was in the private clients department of Newton Fund Management with Helena Morrissey. Two years later when I regretted not finishing my degree, I went to Birkbeck College, a London evening university, where I studied Economics and Social Policy whilst working at Credit Suisse (who sponsored my studies ensuring I graduated debt free). I’d begin work 6 am on the trading floor, finish at 5pm, drive to Oxford Street for lectures until 10pm and drive home… every week night for four years! I achieved my goal and graduated with a 2:1 (having narrowly missed a 1st.)
Post-graduating, I helped operationally launch 5 start up Hedge Funds before taking a sabbatical in Australia where I reconnected with my love of the great outdoors and wellness.
What inspired you to launch 15th degree?
I’m always 5-7 years ahead of my time. I struggled to scale and grow my second start up, an outdoor fitness business which I launched in 2008 (at least 7 years before the wellness scene exploded). It’s ironic as it was the right product (far better than what’s on the fitness market now) but the world wasn’t ready. I sold the business and realised I wanted a product I physically owned which I could sell online 24/7. It had to solve a real problem. I identified wellness in business travel and jetlag that weren’t being addressed. I had ideas in 2015/16 but it wasn’t until 2018 that the travel wellness niche was beginning to develop nicely. I innovated a range of healthy vitamins called JetFuel by 15th Degree (named because every hour the earth rotates 15 degrees, the width of a time zone) to help long-haul travel fatigue
What are you passionate about?
I’m not fond of the word passionate. It’s part of an Entrepreneur’s DNA. What is mandatory and far more important is drive, grit, and an endless determination to never give up. That is far more challenging to achieve than being passionate.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in your career?
I was never the perfect employee, I always felt a square peg in a round hole. I always wanted to work for myself as I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I felt frustration working for someone else and not building my own empire. I’d switch jobs a lot because I’d always get bored after a few months. I’m not very good at being told what to do. I'd start off being brilliant but became challenging to manage as I grew bored and restless.
The longest I stayed at a company was Credit Suisse for 4.5 years but I changed roles and departments within the bank to have variety. My biggest lesson was to understand as quickly as you can what you want out of life. Don't stay in a job just for money. We have such a short time on this planet - find something you want to do, however crazy and dedicate every waking second to making it a success.
Another lesson is to do psychological testing and identify who you are on paper. I did this later in my career and realised I’d been working alongside (and dating) people who were totally incompatible. The biggest lesson learned about team building is that it's much better to hire the right people based on personality than skills which can be taught.
What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?
I’ve always wanted to be incredibly wealthy in my own right, not by marrying into it. It’s become my life mission to learn the ‘how’ of making money and multiplying it to make it grow. I’ve had to rewire my limiting belief around money, reframing my relationship with it. I realised I was thinking of money shortages instead of abundance. Money mindset work is ongoing like meditation, it’s not something you do once.
What does financial independence mean to you?
It means everything! It’s about freedom to do what you want with who you want, when you want, whilst giving it to those who matter to you most, like family. It's not about wearing designer clothes or looking flash; it is about the actual knowledge of how to create wealth and being disciplined enough to execute. The ultimate goal is to become wealthy without having to inherit, marry into it or win it.
What’s the one thing you indulge in?
I don't treat myself. As I’ve got older I’ve become very minimalist. If my aim is to build wealth, I don’t see any value in spending it on unnecessary things, that’s the opposite of my goal. I regard investments in people who can help improve my quality of life as treats, such as personal trainers, nutritionists, chef’s and staff who can buy you time. By rephrasing indulgence to investment it generates a return. The more productive I am, the more money I can make. Whereas an indulgence or a treat suggests I’m wasting money on things I don’t need. It’s frivolous and not something I would do.
What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
I bought a property in London when I was 22. At the same time, I enrolled at Birkbeck, started my new job at Shroders, and bought a sports car, all within a few weeks. I was so committed I couldn't quit any part of the plan. I couldn't walk away from the job because it was paying my studies and the salary paying for the car and mortgage. I couldn't quit the degree because I had already left university before. I created a chain of accountability that made me finish what I set out to do.
I bought my flat for £175,000 and sold it for £250,000. I then bought a house with land in Suffolk on my family farm. It’s a one-off property full of charm, unlike like a terraced house in London. When I bought my first property I couldn't afford to eat out at any restaurants on the Kings Road, or buy clothes or have holidays. I was eating baked beans on toast in my own home whilst decorating. I was living the dream as I desperately wanted to own my property. Whatever I set out to do, I achieve.
One thing I learned about finance is that debt is brilliant, providing you use it correctly. I’m a big believer in using zero interest balance transfers, providing you divide the balance including the fee by the amount of period that you got the interest period for and pay it all off. I’ve funded so many projects this way.
Also, what is the most significant long-term investment?
Myself and my personal development. You've only got your health and time. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else in the world will.
Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”?
When I started viewing money in an entirely different way, removing all my limiting beliefs around finance, it’s only happened in the last 18 months and is an on-going journey...
Own up. Have you made any significant financial faux-pas?
Yes, one. It wasn't a faux-pas, but it pains me still. I sat on my mortgage for five years at a time where I thought interest rates would not go lower, but the credit crunch happened. I overpaid and had to let it go… I paid a redemption fee, re-financed and still saved money.
What do you wish you have done earlier regarding financial planning?
Not so much what I wish I have done, I did everything right, or so we’re told: pensions and ISAs, but it wasn't enough to become wealthy. I had to get new information, my biggest regret is that I didn't understand wealth creation 20 years earlier. My life would be very different right now! My main disappointment is that a lot of the information society gives us is wrong. Going to university and getting a good job isn’t the answer anymore. With the right information [on financial planning] we would all be a lot wealthier.
What is Vestpod for you?
I got excited about it, as it coincides with my epiphany on wealth creation. When I saw Vestpod, I thought "Someone is taking this subject matter and bringing it to the attention of women!". I'll do anything I can to educate women. To say to them: our time for generating wealth is now and we can do whatever we put our mind to, providing we get the right information, be it the right strategy or getting over the weird emotional attachment we have towards money. There's so much to learn and teach women about that it is fascinating.
Favorite book & podcast?
Books: I only take sales and wealth creation advice from Grant Cardone (for the physical selling and closing a deal and once you made money how to multiply it) ‘Sell or be sold,' and ‘10x’ are his best books. I read anything to do with sales and marketing.
Podcasts: Anything on internet sales and Click Funnels by Russell Brunson and again anything by Grant Cardone. Both are my marketing and financial hero’s.
Where can we find you?
Website & social networks
Linkedin Papillon Luck