This week we spoke to Jane King, CEO of LilaMax Media and host of a daily broadcast from the Nasdaq MarketSite (now from her home). She lives in New York with her husband and two children. We chatted with her about running her own business.
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This interview has been lightly edited.
How has your job been affected by the coronavirus?
I found out March 18th that my last day at the Nasdaq would be March 20th. That gave me two days to figure out how to broadcast from home. I use a service called “LiveU” for high-speed internet transmission of my daily live reports. We set it up to work from my NYC apartment. My husband ran to Home Depot and got two large scoop lights with various warm/bright bulbs so we could tweak the lighting. I bought a high-end consumer Panasonic camcorder and voila! In-apartment studio. In terms of business, we have not lost any clients. I think everyone understands this is an unprecedented time and we are all working under difficult conditions.
How have the markets changed since you started covering them?
I started business reporting during 2000, the dot-com era. From there it was 9/11, energy rally, financial crisis, Trump election, China trade, now pandemic. The markets have gotten much more global during this time. China economic reports used to have no impact on U.S. markets, but now they do. Technology has gone from an interesting emerging industry to dominating global markets. I also see young people not as enthusiastic about capitalism, which I think could be detrimental to the future of the U.S.
What investing lessons can we learn from this moment?
Diversify! There have been winning companies during this. Zoom, Amazon, Campbell’s Soup, pizza delivery. You never know what could happen so it always pays to be in different things. We’ve also learned that the Federal Reserve will do whatever it takes to keep the economy afloat.
What’s the biggest money mistake you see people make?
Living above their means. We are a consumer-based society, so people like to spend. I would like to see that pulled back somewhat. We don’t save enough and maybe the pandemic has taught us to better prepare for extreme situations by saving some cash.
What’s your No. 1 financial goal?
We are very focused on college savings. During the downturn, we did buy some stocks that may be able to help. I would like for them to not take on any student debt, if possible.
What about your biggest financial stress?
New York real estate. The cost of living is so high in the city that I can’t save as much as I’d like and as I get older I feel like it’s robbing me of my retirement.
What’s the last thing you resisted buying?
The pandemic has taught us that sometimes, simpler is better. My daughter celebrated her birthday during the crisis via Zoom. She wanted lots of fancy things but I convinced her that spending time with friends and family was more meaningful. Her brother even played “Happy Birthday” on his guitar. It was memorable and special and cost very little. I just asked myself what we really needed versus wanted. Wants aren’t bad but they can easily get out of control.
What’s the last thing you splurged on?
A trip last fall. I was hired to go to Malta to cover a blockchain/artificial Intelligence conference. I wanted to take my family for education and memories. I could have saved a bundle by just going to Malta and back to NYC but we spent five days in Turkey and one day in Rome. It added to the cost but travel is so crucial to relationships, education, et cetera that we thought it was worth the added expense.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve received?
My dad was a farmer so he was very conservative with money. He taught me about the evil of bad debt. While I was never as disciplined as he was, I have managed to avoid trouble as well. He also taught me to do a lot of practical things like changing a tire, sewing a hole in clothes and buying stocks.
What’s the worst financial advice you’ve received?
I have been given bad advice on stocks before. I interviewed a biotech CEO once who was very smooth and said in the interview they were going to have a lot of “big announcements” about deals and treatments in the next year. I bought the stock, but the company had no big announcements and went bankrupt.
What’s the hardest part about starting a business?
It’s scary. If it didn’t work, I would have had to move and work for someone else, which I never want to do again. Someone told me once that life has a constant “rumble of panic” under it all the time. That seems especially true if you own a business.
What’s the most rewarding part of starting a business?
Making my own decisions and being creative. I have worked with media companies that didn’t allow this at all. I also don’t get pressure to do things I don’t want to do.
This interview was lightly edited for style and clarity.