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BroadBand: Mary Ernster

I launched a special blog series to honor and champion other women in business. This is a companion service to a podcast that launched on October 1, 2020.

My intention is to share insights of lessons learned by businesswomen and also elevate their services to the greater community. The goal is to inform and inspire other women with ideas in order to empower them to grow their own business ventures.

Mary Ernster is a financial services planner with New York Life – an agency providing support for over 175 years. We met as members of Polka Dot Powerhouse – Central RI chapter. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and is passionate about helping people understand the power of using their money to build their future.

1.    How long have you been an entrepreneur?

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island with my degree in Economics in 2019; I dove right in to building my own financial services practice with New York Life. It’s been a bit over a year now.

2.    What motivated you to pursue being your own boss?

I’m motivated by the opportunity for uncapped potential and to fully become the CEO I knew I could be. I’m a very competitive person and I love being able to set, and beat, my own goals.

3.    If you could go back to your younger self, what kind of advice would you give yourself about your pursuit to create your own business?

I would tell my even younger self to have more patience. Building a business takes time and perseverance.

4.    Who influenced you – professionally?

Early on when I was soul searching for career paths I would interview professionals in fields I was interested in such as corporate or estate law and financial services. Along the way I became close with a Vice President of a Corporate Benefits and Estate Planning Firm, who is now my mentor, and I was moved by her genuine love for her clients, the excitement she derived from the industry and I experienced a resonation with her process. I knew I would not only thrive in the financial services industry but would love it. Especially if that meant I could be working with and learning from her. She continues to influence me and has taken me under her wing.

5.    When was your moment of realizing, “you know what, I got this!”?

Each time I help a client get closer to their goals I feel like “I got this!” Each time a client says “thank you” for helping them protect their family or for helping them understand their options when it comes to financial planning I feel empowered because I’ve empowered someone else.

6.    How do you keep your momentum going to keep a healthy pace as a business owner?

To keep a healthy pace in my business I check myself every morning. I call it my morning review. Essentially I break down my to-do’s for the day and the week prioritizing tasks that get my business closer to growth. Also, I’ve realized momentum in business is directly related to mindset. I learned building a business can be a rollercoaster of emotions and it’s very important to not allow myself to get too high on success or too deep in the dumps. Every new day is an opportunity to be better than yesterday.

7.    What advice would you share with someone who is thinking about, or just beginning, managing their own business?

I would say to jump in with both feet. Be realistic with yourself, it’s going to get difficult but you will build courage, acquire knowledge, and make a major difference in the lives of others. It’s all worth it.

8.What surprised you the most as a business owner?

What surprised me most as a business owner is that my work/life balance started to blend. I thought making my own schedule would allow me more flexibility and time when in fact it was the opposite. Especially during the pandemic and building my practice from home. I found myself working 11-12 hours a day and weekends. I hadn’t established boundaries. I never thought I’d need to schedule my personal time!

9..Are you more of a every little bit counts kind of person or an all-or-nothing kind of person?

I’m an “every little bit counts” kind of person. I keep moving forward even if it’s in increments.

10.Using a scale of 1 (scaredy cat) and 10 (Evel Knievel) as far as taking risks, where would you put yourself?  

I would rate my risk taking level at a 7. I strive to be fearless but I battle perfectionism. I don’t always enjoy taking risks but risk taking is instrumental to growing my practice. I address my fears, prepare, and take the necessary risks in order to progress.

Can you share a favorite quote?

“Embrace everyone and everything that helps you become a-better-version-of-yourself and you will live a life uncommon.”

– Matthew Kelly

Learn more about Mary here:



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