On Sunday evening, November 7, Let’s Get Real with Coach Menachem Bernfeld featured a fascinating program with practical suggestions for building a career and dealing with various money issues. The speaker was Adam Lieberman, an experienced sales and finance consultant and brother of Dr. David Lieberman.

Coach Menachem began with a short introduction to the topic. “We need money to serve Hashem. According to the Gemara, money blinds even in a small amount. How do we stay aligned properly to our Torah values once we attain money? Money can bring out a person’s character for good or for bad.” He pointed out that money brings out our inner beliefs. It can also bring a lot of anxiety and stress in our Yiddishkeit and in our shalom bayis. “Without emunah it is hard. With emunah it can be easier.”

Mr. Lieberman shared that emunah and bitachon are the foundation for everything. “Success financially spotlights your midos. Sometimes it brings out the best in people and sometimes the opposite is true.”

The program was interactive, with a Q&A session. Someone asked about when you should start a career and how you choose the right one.

Mr. Lieberman responded that many people want to start their own business. “There is no secret job with guaranteed success. Hashem blessed everyone with certain talents and skillsets. Certain things come easy to us. The first thing to focus on is the things you enjoy doing. Find what resonates with your personality.” Your next step is to test-drive a job or a career to see if you like it. Try it before committing to it long term.

Next, someone asked how you can convince yourself to take risks. He shared that everybody has the ability to bring in more money doing things they enjoy doing. “Invest in yourself.” He noted that people can make money writing, sewing, etc. These activities won’t give you stress like real estate and stocks, etc. He added that people are told that money doesn’t bring you happiness. Money is a tool for greatness. It can be used to help so many people and to help you serve Hashem.

Someone asked about the idea of taking out a loan to start a business. He responded that it is a risky thing to do. Schooling is a way to prepare yourself for the future. You will feel more secure with a degree. If you are going to borrow money, then examine your track record. You need a plan, and you have to believe enough in an idea that you are investing in.

He shared that if you are in a job that you don’t like, then you need an outlet outside the job where you use your gifts. “It is hard to go through life not using the gifts Hashem gave you. That was the reason you were created.”

Someone asked about how to go about finding a job. She had sent out mass resumes with no results. Mr. Lieberman encouraged her to think about what kind of company she wants to work for. “If you are clear and specific, you’ll find more opportunities to find a job. Be laser-focused on what you want and know your skillset and salary requirement.” If you are focused like this, you will meet more people who can help you. He added, “Don’t sell yourself short.” Again, he emphasized to be specific in what you are looking for and realize all the areas you have experience in. Look at a large number of companies and see which job description resonates for you. “Don’t say you will take anything. That is a neon sign communicating that you are not skilled.” When asking for a job, be very specific. “People who are specific are more likely to get a job.”

He then spoke about the importance of looking put together when you go to a job interview. A messy appearance may communicate you will be a sloppy worker. “How you present yourself indicates how you will treat your job.”

Someone asked about winning a lot of money. He shared that money gives you ammunition to make decisions. “You need clarity about what you will do with your money.”

Then, someone asked about when you should leave a job and go out on your own. He responded that many salespeople want to go on their own. “If you want to start on your own, keep in mind that it’s not all it is cracked up to be.” You need to know what is involved. Don’t be irresponsible and quit a job that is bringing in consistent, real money with a steady flow of clients. Before you leave, you may be better off asking for a different structure with less risk involved, like profit sharing, or starting a new division or getting a raise. Be careful about starting something new. Don’t quit the current job. You can first work night times or weekends. If you are looking to stake out on your own, it is a great time to partner with someone else. There is a concept that one plus one equals infinity. Two people can create something very special.

Next, someone asked about being a salesperson and why some people do better than others with the same situation and product. Mr. Lieberman shared that you have to believe in the product and find something unique about that service or product. Also, in the beginning you need to realize that everyone will reject you. If you can keep marching on with it, then you will be successful. People sometimes give up too soon. “Remember also that you are one more phone call before success. Keep your head in the game.”

After this, someone asked about how to ask for a raise. Mr. Lieberman shared that many people are afraid to ask for a raise. The best way is not to say I want a raise. The best way is to say something like the following: I enjoy working here. I think I am doing a great job. I’ve done x, y, and z (be specific). I’m proud of the way this has helped the company. I’d like to ask for a raise commensurate with my work. Tell them the amount you would like and then do not say anything. He stressed that you have to wait. If you talk at this point it seems you are unsure of yourself. You will be surprised by the result. Also, emphasize that you are asking out of necessity, not out of desire.

One of the final callers asked about dealing with the disappointment of making it rich and then losing all the money and seeing friends who are doing well. Mr. Lieberman shared an inspiring answer to this. There are many stories of people going from rags to riches to rags and then to riches again. He told the caller that there is nothing more powerful than the belief that you can do something and you have that because you once did succeed. “Dust off your clothes and get back in the ring. Chazal teach that a tzadik falls seven times and gets back up.”

He concluded with a meaningful message. “Money is an allusion. The only true security is the Almighty. The pauper and the millionaire both go into the sukkah to illustrate this idea and to inculcate it inside of themselves. The truth is that it is G-d’s money. He tells us we can’t take interest and we have to give a tenth to tz’dakah.

By Susie Garber