Communication and Power Dynamics with Shruti Dhalwala

If Money Were Easy

Hosted by Mary Beth Storjohann and Neela Hummel

Communication and Power Dynamics with Shruti Dhalwala

Graphic of a photo of Mary Beth and Neela with a blue banner that reads, "If Money Were Easy"
If Money Were Easy
Communication and Power Dynamics with Shruti Dhalwala

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Episode Summary

Today we are joined by Shruti Dhalwala, Vice President of Advisory at Acceleration Community of Companies where she co-leads public relations and strategy for the agency’s PepsiCo business. In this episode we will dive deep into the tapestry of financial communication and unravel the power dynamics that shape the narratives of business and personal branding. Shruti brings invaluable insight on the stories behind successful public relations, guiding us through the nuanced game of information in our hyper-connected world. She talks about owning your accomplishments, nurturing your teams, and prioritizing trust in every transaction. Whether you’re leveraging your branding or navigating the latest market shake-up, it’s about adding value and injecting humanity into every interaction. Join us today to listen to the amazing insight Shruti shares with us!

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Some of the common misconceptions when it comes to public relations
  • The human element of public relations
  • The effect PR has on a brand and how that PR can make an impact
  • The importance of telling stories that people can connect with
  • The differences among genders when it comes to seeking attention and recognition
  • The best way to move forward during the chaos and the mindset to have
  • The impact of financial decisions when it comes to personal freedom
  • As leaders, balancing action and inaction when it comes to sensitive topics
  • The best way to connect with consumers and why you should focus on value
  • Some of the challenges faced when controlling the message in a digital world
  • What to do when a PR crisis arises

Resources Mentioned on the Show:

  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  • Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

Stay Connected:


Transcript of the Episode

Mary Beth [00:00:14]:

Hey there. Welcome to the If Money Were Easy podcast, the show where we teach you how to expand what’s possible with your money. We’re your hosts, Mary Beth Storjohann 

Neela [00:00:24]:

and Neela Hummel, 

Mary Beth [00:00:25]:

certified financial planners and co CEOs of Abacus Wealth Partners. Today on the show we’re talking about communication and power dynamics.

Neela [00:00:36]:

So we are thrilled to welcome Shruti Dhalwala to our show today. I’m going to give her background bio that’s going to make her completely blush. So let’s go. Shruti is a vice president of advisory at Acceleration Community of Companies. Shruti co leads public relations and strategy for the agency’s PepsiCo business. Her 16 plus year career in the PR industry is less linear than most. She’s been a freelance journalist, an in-house publicist and PR lead, and worked her way up in agencies from Sydney to New York. 

Neela [00:01:07]:

She’s been the strategic head delegator, doer, planner and client liaison for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, managing multimillion dollar campaigns with the same zeal she brings to the go-to market strategy of startups and launches for niche brands. Shruti holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in advertising from the University of Southern California. Shruti, welcome to the show. 

Mary Beth [00:01:32]:


Shruti [00:01:32]:

Hello. Hello. Thank you, thank you. And you’re right, definitely blushing at that intro. Always weird to hear about yourself. 

Neela [00:01:39]:

Well, more on that later, I imagine as we talk about personal branding and hiding from one’s own accomplishments. 

Shruti [00:01:47]:


Mary Beth [00:01:48]:

So just kicking it right off. What is public relations? 

Shruti [00:01:53]:

So this is a really fun thing I love to answer because my own family, to this day, does not fully understand what I do. So as you can imagine, I think this is a plight of most public relations professionals. In a nutshell, public relations is one arm of marketing. I always tell people advertising is when you see an ad and you’re telling the world how great you are, public relations is somebody going behind the scenes being like, hey, have you heard about Mary Beth and Neela? Look how amazing they are. That’s public relations. Like having that third party endorsement, talking about how everything you’re seeing in your advertising is actually true. Yeah, it’s a very nuanced, diverse world that has changed immensely from the time I started my career and was actually calling journalists on the phone. You can imagine that little throwback thing before we did everything on email and manually mailing out press releases and pitches. Now we do everything on email. We have social media. It is a wild and wacky world. 

Neela [00:03:03]:

So this might sound like a very silly question, but what is the power of public relations, and why should people pay attention? 

Shruti [00:03:13]:

So public relations essentially validates everything you’re trying to do in your paid for marketing strategy. When you, you at Abacus, if you’re putting out a paid media spend on advertising yourselves, on social media, in online, print publications, even if you guys do a local broadcast ad, what public relations does is take everything that you have said about yourselves and validate it. Humanizes it, actually, more than anything, you’re validating it, you’re humanizing it, and you are demonstrating where your expertise and strength lies. The fun thing is, we always say public relations is one part of the marketing mix. Because in order for public relations to be incredibly effective, it is usually most effective when it’s another form of consumers or your audience finding out about you. It is supplementary to everything else you see. So say, for example, there is a bottle of water you want to buy. You start seeing ads for this bottle of water on tv when you’re watching your streaming. Maybe you hear them plug an ad in a podcast. You get served ads on Instagram for them. But if your favorite health and fitness influencer, or, say, a fitness instructor you work with, is like, oh, my gosh, I love this water for x, y, and z reasons. 

Mary Beth [00:04:37]:

Like Robin Arzon from Peloton. Okay, just got it. 

Shruti [00:04:42]:

Correct. So imagine if Robin Arzon is on her Peloton has been like, oh, my God, this is my favorite water ever. Oh, my gosh. Well, Robin likes it. 

Neela [00:04:52]:

I believe there’s a guarantee when you drink aforementioned water that you get Robin’s abs. And in which case, name your price.

Mary Beth [00:04:58]:

Kinda want the arms. I was going for the arms. 

Shruti [00:05:00]:

Arms. Yeah. 

Mary Beth [00:05:01]:

Either way. 

Neela [00:05:01]:


Mary Beth [00:05:02]:

Yeah. Great. 

Shruti [00:05:04]:

Listen, girl knows what she’s doing, right? I don’t know if all the water in the world can give you Robin Arzon’s abs, however, the association alone is the kind of PR we like to, again, get people to associate your brand with something. And that’s another really valuable part of public relations, is, all right, who is the brand aligning with? Who is somebody who embodies, who is aspirational, who is showing how great our product is, why they should buy it. And this is especially when you see mass market fashion campaigns or athletic wears, like, sneakers, for example, I mean, Nike. Talk about a company that just nailed the brief. I mean, they go above and beyond from a marketing and advertising lens, but also in PR, because of how many ways they talk about the company. Granted, they also get bad PR. Rewind into Allyson Felix and what happens to the brand when they actually have to be held accountable to what they aren’t doing. But also a great case study on moving forward past it and saying, hey, we’ve done this wrong. Here’s how we’re going to fix it. All of that comes under the beautiful umbrella of public relations. It’s not just brand building, it’s crisis comms, it’s brand safety, brand management, reputation management. All of this ladders into that wonderful, wild, wacky world of public relations. 

Neela [00:06:34]:

So what do business leaders, because we have a lot of listeners who either run their own shop or run a smaller business. What do you feel like business leaders get wrong under the communication umbrella, especially when it comes to, I know we talked a little bit about maybe promoting oneself or promoting someone’s achievements. I don’t know if you have anything to contribute on that. 

Shruti [00:06:59]:

Well, one, definitely not the best self-promoting, so more on that later. Honestly, the most common phrase that PR professionals hear time and time again is, oh well, we’re going to do x, y and z and you can just PR it. Not really what PR is… 

Neela [00:07:20]:

Is PR not a verb? 

Mary Beth [00:07:22]:

I didn’t know it was a verb. PR it? 

Shruti [00:07:24]:

It’s not, but it is often used as one. And it’s funny because that comes from a place which I’m sure you guys encounter in your career too. We as humans commonly oversimplify that which we don’t know. And there’s a lot of nuance in public relations that gets a bad rap because everyone just thinks you’re spin doctors and can spin anything. And yes, there’s some very creative thinking and there’s good PR. And what I’d argue is bad PR. But what a lot of leaders tend to struggle with is A not recognizing what actually drives earned coverage and drives that conversation. And that’s where I come back into humanizing. When you watch an advertisement, you don’t really get the same human connection because the end goal of everything you’re being served is to sell you a lifestyle and more importantly, a product or service. With PR, you are actually trying to understand what is a need you are solving for? Who is the expert behind it? And I think what a lot of leaders tend to get wrong is A not knowing where to start because again, you don’t know what you don’t know and B oversimplifying and not recognizing that you can’t use the same strategy you use selling in PR. There are some really interesting parallels, because as public relations professionals, when I use the term pitching, it’s basically you telling a story into a journalist to get them to write about your product, your campaign. But the most successful campaigns or even the most successful profiles on business leaders come from telling that human story. What is a story here that I can uniquely relate to or that somebody else can relate to and replicate? If it’s an executive visibility type profile, what is your individual story that offers lessons for other people to learn from? A lot of people love to talk about their experience in broad strokes. And what’s interesting is the sales pitch that helps you as an executive and a business leader and a CEO get funding for you is not the same sales pitch that’s going to encourage someone to want to write about you. When you’re trying to get funding from someone and this is actually interesting because when working with smaller companies that are on their round one of seed funding, round two of seed funding, and are slowly getting more and more investment in their companies, they are like, okay, well, I need more press around me, I need more PR. But their approach to it is to take this, I am the best. I am highly competent. That’s what got everyone to give me money. Therefore, that’s what everyone’s going to use to write about me. But it’s not because that’s not human. That’s like this very well curated look how great my life is on Instagram. I’m the best. But it’s not telling the real story of what was your struggle? What is the way you had to problem solve? What was something you faced that maybe your peers didn’t face? Where did you have to find a leg up you couldn’t find otherwise? 

Mary Beth [00:10:49]:

So PR is really about trust building and kind of maintaining that trust. It’s not like an end game. PR is an ongoing process, right, of that human element, that human component. And you’re going to build that trust over time by providing those ups and downs. And there’s going to be negative events that happen. And part of the PR is again, rebuilding that trust from the negative event that happened, or there’s positive things that continue to build trust, whereas selling is more transactional, whereas PR seems like it’s more of an ongoing thing. Am I identifying that correctly? 

Shruti [00:11:18]:

100%. The PR person’s job is never fully done. 

Neela [00:11:25]:

It’s good job security, I think.

Shruti [00:11:28]:

Unless there’s a pandemic, and then everyone’s like, well… 

Neela [00:11:34]:

It sounds like the relationship building is that you’re building relationships with your target audience. And if that’s the consumer, that has to be built on trust and that’s also being able to support the product, whatever you’re saying you’re not going to invent some magic story that’s completely different than the product that you’re trying to sell. You take a consumer’s trust very seriously and you want to protect that. And so the brand’s responsibility is to really maintain that trust and you’re going to cultivate that through your PR strategy. 

Shruti [00:12:03]:

100%. I just want to say you guys are both spot on. It makes me very proud to know that I’ve done my job well, that you guys are nailing what it is. 

Mary Beth [00:12:11]:

My work here is done. 

Shruti [00:12:12]:

Podcast wrapped. 

Mary Beth [00:12:14]:

Great. Eleven minute episode. So I love what you’re saying, especially going back to business leaders and individuals and this human element, because so many times we get these accolades throughout our lives. We have our fancy degrees, we have the families that we’ve come from, we have the resume right where we have that highlight reel that gets the deal closed for something, but it’s not the human element. It doesn’t show the struggles that we’ve been through, the experiences that we’ve had on the job maybe that we’ve overcome. There are stories that come through over time that really help to build from a personal branding component, that story narrative around who you are, because it’s really easy to say, hey, I won this award. Like, great, that’s a check. There’s credibility that comes from that. Always the piece of the puzzle. But again, I love what you said going back to that human element, because the human aspect of it is what causes people to emotionally connect with you, right? You want people to emotionally connect to you or to your brand or the service that you’re selling. That’s what I think PR is doing, right? We want people to feel emotionally connected and hopefully somewhat invested in the service or product that we’re looking to provide. 

Shruti [00:13:17]:

It’s so true. And I also love that you mentioned awards and accolades because, fun fact, the person that writes the award submissions for an executive for a campaign, that’s a PR person. Usually not always, but more times than not. And there’s a good reason for it. Because again, even for you to win those awards, you still have to talk about what is the problem you’ve solved or how have you used your role to achieve something bigger, better, greater and do something remarkable that left an impact. So a lot of that does come from what you called out about building trust, accountability, but also being able to show a path of, hey, you can trust me because there is consistency in what I’m saying. I know you guys across your podcast talk a lot about going by your values. And that applies to brands, individuals, companies, across the board, because people aren’t dumb. And, Mary Beth, to your point, too, about the product having to match up with what you’re saying from a PR standpoint, 100% true. You can be getting the best press under the sun, but bad news and the truth will always come out. What’s interesting is gone are the days when publicists could hide things. And I think Hollywood’s a great example of this, because all of the dirty business that used to go on behind the scenes in Hollywood, we’ve seen year after year, there’s less and less of that. And that’s because I had this phenomenal professor in college actually named Howard Bragman. He had this advice he gave to every single client. He’s like, whatever you do, if you don’t want it to get out, don’t record it, don’t document it. And right now, with social media, with cell phones, everything is documented. Everything can be documented without your consent. Not to get doom and gloom a little dreary, but I think it’s a really important thing to be aware of, because it does mean there’s so many more ways to, A, hold people accountable, B, for bad news to get out there, and C, there’s fewer ways for you to control your information. The number one rule of PR when things are going sour or not as planned, is you control the message, you control the flow of information, because the more you can prevent from spreading, the more you can have control over that narrative and continue to build on the trust that you’ve hopefully established year after year. 

Neela [00:16:06]:

So it’s almost like the modern day advice that your professor might give us today would be, if you do not want it to get out, don’t do it. 

Shruti [00:16:15]:


Mary Beth [00:16:17]:

Just don’t do it. I feel like that’s where we’re at now, right. Based on from where we were when we grew up, we didn’t have these cell phone situations.

Shruti [00:16:25]:

Thank God.

Mary Beth [00:16:27]:

Thank God. 

Neela [00:16:28]:

So you talked about in terms of awards and self-promotion, and that it’s oftentimes other people who are filling those out. You work with a lot of different high-profile executives. Do you feel that people are able to actually talk about their accomplishments? How does that translate? I would go out on a limb and say, my guess is some of the women that you work with might have a harder time talking about their accomplishments because they might not want to take credit for it. But I also might be projecting. What do you think? 

Shruti [00:16:59]:

Well, I will say it’s interesting. I don’t necessarily want to generalize just over all men and all women, because I will say, yes, I think it does skew a little bit higher to women time and time again. However, I have realized, again, in just working with a range of different personalities, I do think there’s a certain personality that wants to be the superstar that thinks that their story is so remarkable and phenomenal and everyone should just bow down to them. And that I’ve seen across men and women alike, I don’t even think that’s just that. But it’s interesting because I have also noticed some incredibly successful women in massive organizations who, on their LinkedIn, and when they speak, you were enthralled and amazed and impressed by everything they have to say, everything they’ve done. Their approach to their business needs to, how they handle their employees. But then behind the scenes, they’re the ones who are like, oh, is that okay? Should I not have said that? I don’t want to be taking credit for this. I don’t want to put all the attention on me.I want to make sure my team is getting the limelight, too. I want to make sure I’m using my role and my position of power to help others. And I will say, I do see that more nurturing aspect come out more with females than with men. But I do also think it’s 100% of personality, because I’ve had some bosses and clients who are incredibly collaborative and are all about paying it forward, and they’re like, look, I’m just the face of it. I recognize I have to be the face, but I want to make sure that my team gets a shout out. That is well deserved. This does not happen by itself. I see your wheels turning, Nee. 

Neela [00:19:06]:

No, I love that. I mean, it’s super inspiring hearing that, because at the end of the day, especially if you’re the leader…

Mary Beth [00:19:13]:

Because that’s you. 

Shruti [00:19:18]:

Like looking into a mirror. 

Neela [00:19:21]:

No, it’s inspiring. 

Mary Beth [00:19:24]:

You are inspiring. It is you. And it can be inspiring, and it can continue to inspire you. Just continue. Sorry, go ahead. 

Neela [00:19:30]:

Thank you, Thank you, my dear love. Thank you. But at the end of the day, a company is not a person. But companies tend to be led by a person or people. And so I think there’s a lovely self awareness there where nobody achieves anything by themselves. At the end of the day, we all get helping hands. And companies in particular are a construct of lots of people rowing together in one direction. It’s nice hearing that because that’s how the world changes. That’s how we make a positive impact. That’s how companies do better. And so I’m just like heartwarmed hearing that. And it’s also a little heartbreaking because does that person ever get to feel like it was good enough? 

Mary Beth [00:20:13]:

Right. Yeah, I think that’s the tension. 

Neela [00:20:17]:


Mary Beth [00:20:18]:

That’s the leadership aspect. But being able to show up and present in a certain way and then behind the scenes, wanting to make sure people feel nurtured and cared for and seen in that spotlight, I think that’s the plight of our co CEO leadership is that… Turn this into counseling session. 

Shruti [00:20:37]:

That’s also what public relations professionals do as well. We’re excellent counselors. 

Mary Beth [00:20:44]:

I can see. Right, that makes sense in terms of giving advice and creative thinking and having to be able to work through so much of the good and bad that comes into play. I feel like that you have to be trusted advisors. Right. And counselors, and giving advice and being able to provide feedback and insight and ways to look at things that might not have been considered by those that you’re counseling. 

Shruti [00:21:03]:

Yeah, I was just going to say, when you talk about being trusted advisors, I always joke that part of what makes me good at my job is I have this eerie ability to be very calm and think clearly in times of utter chaos, which I think you guys probably encounter in your lives. You guys are co CEOs, so you’re way ahead of the game than I am. But it’s interesting because my brain has always been very solution oriented. And I think a lot of this is what I get from my mom because she’s somebody that will never focus on the problem or what’s going wrong. She’s like, look, it’s out of your control. The thing that is in your control is what you do about it. And I think that lens is what helps me approach the many pivots that come in the world of PR and marketing. And when things are going great, sometimes you still need to pivot because an even greater opportunity has come in that you need to act quickly on. And even when things are going poorly and something horrible out of your control is happening, you still have to think about what are the ways to address this. And again, that humanity is such a core of what public relations and messaging to a larger body of people is really all about. And yes, it is about choosing your words carefully. It is about thinking through what are all the possible ways things can be misconstrued or things can backfire against you, or even like what we were talking about earlier. Do I have a right to say this? And there are a lot of spaces that brands and individuals have to check themselves and say, I would love to say this, but actually, let me take a step back and not just speak in my own little vacuum, but think about where do my words land in the context of what’s happening at large and what do I have a right to say.

Mary Beth [00:23:06]:

I love that you said that as my role co CEO, former CMO at Abacus, one of the big things we do when Roe v. Wade got overturned, Neela and I struggled in whether or not we put something out. We put out a statement and is it from Abacus? Is it from us? And how do we approach this? And knowing the tension that’s around it, and knowing who Abacus is and how we stand as a company and a brand and our impact and values. We went through all of that, obviously, the immense anger that we each felt and passion when that immediately happened, and then pausing for a beat, thinking through our individual stories and messages, deciding to issue a statement from the co CEOs, not from Abacus, but issued a statement in terms of reproductive rights, statement, put some policies in place at Abacus. But we went through all of that. It takes a lot of time, right from the PR perspective, like that thought of what can go wrong, what can backfire? Who is this landing? Who is the audience? What are the pros and cons of doing this? What feels right? And sometimes there’s risk involved either way, right, in terms of how things can land. And I think that’s a really interesting nuance that people understand, maybe about PR or the work that you’re doing is, even as we are trying to help people to recover from some of the missteps they make. Maybe you might not always get it right, so you might recommend something, and then you do something, and then that might be even more fallout from that. Then you have to take another step. I don’t know. Like you said, the work is never done and you’re always on your toes. You figure it out is how I interpret it. 

Shruti [00:24:28]:

100%. I mean, the amount of times… It’s so funny, I just had flashbacks of projects I’ve worked on over the past year where there has been some 11th hour breaking news that impacts something we’re working on, and either we have to hit pause because it’s not appropriate talk about this thing in this news cycle, or, okay, we need to reevaluate our strategy on how we are leveraging this talent, because they could be asked about this in a negative way, or, oh, my God, now they’re like the hottest person to talk to. How do we strategically leverage that in a way that doesn’t get our message lost in their news, but is using their news as a way to amplify what we are trying to say. And this is the constant chess game we play daily. And sometimes you get text messages from clients. You’re like, okay, never a dull moment. 

Neela [00:25:28]:

And we’re pivoting, we’re pivoting and we’re pivoting. Well, we definitely want to get to our closing questions, but would love for you to leave our listeners with one tangible takeaway that. I mean, there’s been lots of tangible takeaways, but for people who are just getting started on their own personal branding journey, what is one thing that you would recommend they do to start either building their personal brand or their company’s brand? Is there any advice you could give them there? 

Shruti [00:25:59]:

I would say the biggest piece is recognizing what you stand for. And that applies to you as an individual or you as a brand. One book and one individual whose work I love is Simon Sinek. He’s all about find your why. And I honestly, when I read that book, I just was floored. And it’s really fun because obviously one of his incredible pieces of advice is just talk to your close friends. Don’t go to your family for this. You need to find those people that are around you and have seen you move through the world and they know what you’re good at. And I would even argue that same context applies to your brand as well. It’s like going into your best consumers or your top clients. Hey, what do you love about what I’m doing? And I think once you can nail, just keep it to two, three bullets at most, keep your message tight and make it about the value you add and the humanity behind what you’re doing. And I think that’s the part I’m just going to harp on time and time again, is at the end of the day, we’re all humans. And what drives connection, what drives us to choose A over B is personal experience and our personal lens of looking at anything. So how do you connect with somebody in their way and you don’t have to be everything to everyone. That’s also the other piece of it. I think that’s where a lot of people fall flat, is we try to do too much and we try to have what we are doing do it all. And this also comes from being a workaholic. So I feel like kindred spirits here, right? 

Neela [00:27:44]:

It’s just the three of us and tons of listeners, but it’s very intimate. 

Shruti [00:27:51]:

To all you workaholic out here, do less.

Mary Beth [00:27:55]:

Do as we say… That’s fantastic advice. I mean, the humanity of it all, just the humanity behind it, that’s life advice. That’s just great life advice. Kudos to you. 

Shruti [00:28:09]:

All I want to do is just live the world and use my powers for good. Know that I’m a good person. 

Mary Beth [00:28:14]:


Shruti [00:28:14]:

Can’t control any of the other chaos. But you know what? In my little bubble, this is the most I can do. And maybe I help other people in the. That’s… 

Mary Beth [00:28:22]:

I love it. 

Shruti [00:28:23]:

Maybe we grow the bubble. 

Mary Beth [00:28:25]:

All right, let’s do the closing questions. Shruti, what is your best financial advice you have ever received? 

Shruti [00:28:31]:

I’m going to have to give shout out to the brilliant Neela Hummel because this advice comes directly from her. She told me that your time and your money are limited resources. If you do not choose how you spend them, somebody or something else will decide for you. And that advice is seared into my skull. Do you remember giving advice to me? Because I was like, I have your voice in the back of my head when I am doing my little budgeting, which I do as a grown adult. It took me ages. Embarrassing to admit that. 

Neela [00:29:12]:

Yea you’re doing it.

Shruti [00:29:13]:

Look, it’s a really rough budget. I just estimate things because… 

Neela [00:29:16]:

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Mary Beth [00:29:18]:

It’s PR. PR. You’re doing it. 

Shruti [00:29:24]:

But yes, I would say I thought that was. It really shifted how I approach things and what I am reactive with versus proactive with. And because of this brilliant advice, it also helped me be prepared, more prepared than ever before for reactive situations. 

Neela [00:29:45]:

Yay. Oh, well, thank you. 

Shruti [00:29:48]:

Thank you. My bank account thanks you. 

Neela [00:29:54]:

Note to the SEC that does not count as an endorsement. Second question. What is your favorite money mistake you’ve ever made and why? 

Shruti [00:30:09]:

I’m going to call this my favorite mistake because it was chaotic and a blessing in disguise. So in order to break up with my boyfriend, who is, bless his heart, not really the right fit for me, I made some very expensive mistakes because my freedom from him meant choosing myself. And that also meant choosing some debt because I was not willing to continue living with somebody in our tiny New York City apartment without being completely happy. And even though we had just renewed our lease, went through this painful process of not making that much and paying rent on an apartment I didn’t live in for three and a half months. One and a half of those months was double the rent. And so I accrued a lot of credit card debt that I transparently couldn’t get out of. And my credit score took a massive dive and it was a massive struggle to come back up from it. But I will say the biggest thing I learned during then was, wow, credit card debt is this impossible behemoth to come out of it. I mean, this was no small fry debt. I mean, like, I almost maxed out two credit cards just to be able to choose my happiness. I would do it again in a heartbeat, even though it was a very expensive lesson. I mean, I wish I was a little smarter about it, but look, your girl was coming out of a recession, working some underpaying fashion jobs. 20s me was learning some very expensive life lessons. But I will say that has armed me with ensuring that it doesn’t happen again and has given me better tools on how to protect myself. And as I mentioned before, just the tools to know how do I protect myself and account for moments where I do need to be reactive. Another great piece of advice I was given also credit to Neela Hummel was money is freedom. It doesn’t make you greedy for wanting it, but money gives you freedom. And another piece I have living in my skull rent free. 

Neela [00:32:33]:

Good for you. For choosing you. I love it.

Mary Beth [00:32:36]:

Okay, fill in the blank. If money were easy… 

Shruti [00:32:38]:

We would all be rich. Easy. 

Mary Beth [00:32:44]:


Neela [00:32:45]:

True dat. True, true, true. 

Shruti [00:32:46]:

Well, it’s funny because I was also thinking, I was like, man, if communication was easy, we would all get along. So if money was easy, it wouldn’t feel like you have to learn a whole new language to do your taxes, to understand a budget, to understand the system of your credit card and the right way to pay it so it helps your credit score, or how to understand retirement and leveraging like it feels like you’re doing a massive puzzle every time you’re tackling your finances. And I’m so grateful for individuals like yourselves and the work you do, because for the rest of us whose brains don’t work that way, it’s so hugely valuable. And I genuinely wish it was easier, but I also believe that the system was intentionally created so that it wasn’t. So this is why we all have to use our powers for good and make it a little bit easier, right? 

Neela [00:33:43]:

Oh, I love it. Shruti, there’s so much good stuff in here, and I feel like I’m leaving with good nuggets and just also a really positive feeling around the humanness that connects us all. And you are not a spin doctor. You are a truth teller. And I’m here for it.

Mary Beth [00:34:03]:

Thank you so much. And for our listeners, where can our listeners find you? Should they have… Need PR? Should they have PR questions? Should they… 

Shruti [00:34:12]:

Honestly, LinkedIn is probably the best bet. Shruti Dhalwala the advantage of a unique name like that is I’m the only one. 

Mary Beth [00:34:22]:

Perfect, perfect. Thank you so much for coming on. 

Neela [00:34:25]:

So great. 

Shruti [00:34:26]:

Thank you for having me. What an honor to be here and to be with two complete, powerhouse, incredible women. I really love the podcast and everything you guys talk about. There’s so many things that really hit close to home and it feels nice to know that we’re not all alone in this rocky world of a crazy process. 

Neela [00:34:46]:

Thank you.

Mary Beth [00:34:47]:

Thank you. 

Mary Beth [00:34:51]:

Financial knowledge is for everyone if you enjoyed today’s episode of If Money Were Easy and you’re looking for more tools and resources to expand what’s possible with your money, head to Abacus Wealth Partners elearning platform offering a variety of courses to empower you in your financial life.

Mary Beth [00:35:33]:

Abacus Wealth Partners is an SEC registered investment advisor. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of Abacus Wealth Partners by the SEC, nor does it indicate that Abacus Wealth Partners has attained a particular level of skill or ability. This material prepared by Abacus Wealth Partners is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security strategy or investment product. Opinions expressed by Abacus Wealth Partners are based on economic or market conditions at the time this material was written. Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Abacus Wealth Partners, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Abacus Wealth Partners does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax or legal advice. Economies and markets fluctuate actual economic or market events may turn out differently than anticipated. No investor should assume that future performance will be profitable or equal either the previous reflected performance or that of the reference benchmarks. The historical performance results of the comparative benchmark do not reflect the deduction of transaction and custodial charges or the deduction of an investment management fee, the incurrence of which would decrease indicated historical performance. The S&P Index includes 500 leading companies in the US and is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large cap US equities. The holdings and performance of Abacus Wealth Partners client accounts may vary widely from those of the presented indices. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Abacus Wealth Partners and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Abacus Wealth Partners unless a client service agreement is in place.

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