IAM1768 – Entrepreneur Helps Clients Develop Customized Financial Plans

Podcast Interview with Jenevieve Lenz

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Jenevieve Lenz, a professional entrepreneur support and wealth advisor who helps clients develop customized financial plans. Jenevieve is a third-generation entrepreneur who comes from a family of German, Scottish, and Eastern European immigrants. She is the founder of First Financial Group, based in Bethesda, MD, and works out of the Reston office.

In the interview, Jenevieve shares her personal journey and how she became a wealth advisor. She discusses the importance of customized financial planning for individuals and businesses, as well as the benefits of working with a professional advisor. Jenevieve also talks about the challenges of entrepreneurship and the rewards of helping clients achieve their financial goals.

Jenevieve shares her CEO hacks and nuggets, which include focusing on client needs and building strong relationships. She defines being a CEO as a leader who can inspire and empower others to achieve their goals.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the importance of customized financial planning and the role of a professional advisor in helping clients achieve their financial goals. Jenevieve's experience and expertise in the field make this episode a must-listen for anyone interested in personal finance or entrepreneurship.

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Jenevieve Lenz Teaser 00:00

The worst people to get advice from are family members, right? They don't have confidence that it's gonna work out. They don't want to see you get hurt. I think that's the issue, right? So think outside the box. Don't talk to family members. I know you're gonna want to, and they're gonna wanna know what you're doing.

Intro 00:16

Are you ready to hear business stories, and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders, without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:43

Hello, hello, hello. This is the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Or what I like to call the CB Nation architects, those that are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focusing on knowing the numbers. I could hear the phrases from Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, and if you understand or don't understand exactly what numbers is, think finance, economics, accounting, capital, investment, funding, bootstrapping, anything that's around numbers. So, We have to understand how important it is to know your numbers and how important that is for you to forecast, make decisions, and to be able to truly strategize around your business and do that successfully.

Things are gonna be a little bit different obviously, this month. So look for CEO hacks and CEO nuggets and interviews that focus around this. But more than everything else, make sure that you know your numbers because they're extremely important to the life of your business.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today I have Jenevieve Lenz of First Financial Group. Jenevieve, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Jenevieve Lenz 02:08

Thanks for having me, Gresh. Glad to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:10

Super excited to have you on as well too. Before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Jenevieve so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Jenevieve or John Veev, because I know you speak multiple languages, is a professional entrepreneur, support and wealth advisor who wears many hats. She's the third generation entrepreneur from a family of German, Scottish, and Eastern Europe Immigrants. First financial group is based in Bethesda, Maryland, and she works out of the Reston office.

Jenevieve or John Veev are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Jenevieve Lenz 02:35

Yes, sir. I am. Let's get it going.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:37

Let's do it then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your background or your CEO story and what led you to get started with all that awesome work you're doing.

Jenevieve Lenz 02:46

That's a long story. I love to tell the history of my grandfather who came to the United States with his three brothers. So four German brothers landed in New York and they all started their own business. My grandfather, Herman Lens started not only his own restaurant with his brother, they actually had another brother who wanted to go into home building. So started some restaurants, started building some homes up there in Pine Ledge which is the Rochester, Buffalo side of the state.

And lo and behold, my dad was born into this family. He had two siblings, and it didn't take him long to realize that he didn't wanna be involved with all the businesses that his father had built. So he set off on his own to start his own business, as did my aunt. My dad looked and looked for a place to start a business and he ended up buying a structure that dates back to 1853. Historic property back in the days of the late 17 hundreds, the Holland Land Company offered 10-acre plots of land, whoever would own and operate a property on it.

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So this gentleman named Asa Ransom bought this property, built a small tavern on it, and my dad actually bought the historic property and he named it the Asa Ransom house after the founder and the settler. So it's great. I grew up there. They actually built the business when I was a kid. I was involved in every aspect of this business from front desk management to waitressing, to house cleaning management skills. I went off to college and even wrote some of my thesis on how to build and operate a business, how to maintain staff, how to put a staff manual together how to do marketing.

It evolved as my college years evolved. Then fast forward many years later, my grandfather passed away and there were just a lot of repercussions as to how the family was affected by his death. The things that he had done during his lifetime, building businesses and the assets there. So that's the short and sweet of how I got started. Everyone in my family was an entrepreneur, so I didn't know anything different.

Gresham Harkless 04:34

Yeah, absolutely. I know when we connected and spoke initially and then not even offline, in preparation of this that was something that really resonated with me of you having quote and quote entrepreneurship in your blood.

And also being able to obviously help and support business owners, entrepreneurs in so many different people and in that aspect, but really be able to call on your roots, for lack of a better term, to be able to do that and understand the mindset and the things that entrepreneurs and CEOs and business owners might be going through.

Jenevieve Lenz 04:57

Yeah, because it's so far-reaching, right? You're a CEO, especially if you've built your own company from scratch. You wear many, many hats. You have to be a jack of all trades, or you have to get really good at finding other people that you can delegate some of these things to, not everybody's great at internet marketing. Most CEOs I speak to and support today, they have a great internet person, right? They have some people that even write their content for LinkedIn and Facebook.

That's only one aspect and as their company grows, finding key teammates, and employees and retaining them is huge, right? We've seen how important that is through COVID and what the world's dishing out today. So there are just so many areas of support that are needed. Obviously, one big one is financial. So, yeah, in my role as a financial person, I find myself wearing multiple hats as well because I'm on the board of my dad's company.

So when I'm not doing my primary financial role there, I am behind the scenes at midnight, helping with content that creates marketing first for still the family business that's running up in New York state.

Gresham Harkless 05:52

Love that. Can you take us through a little bit more on how you support the clients that you work with and what exactly that process looks like.

Jenevieve Lenz 05:57

It looks a little bit different for everyone, but there's a lot of it that's the same, right? So it starts with meeting them where they are, right? Every business is either in a thriving situation right now, or their business. I've seen some business owners, COVID has been really good to them. Others not so much, right? They're in a major pain point. Revenue is behind, maybe it's flow management, maybe it's just that their business is stagnant. It's not growing in this environment that we're seeing currently.

So meeting them where they are, figuring out what the most important thing to them is today, right? Every business owners, it's gonna be different. Working with some clients now that actually lost a partner, so the structure of the business is important. When you have a partner that's lost death to a disease, things that are happening within your firm, how do you manage that? Was there a buy-sell agreement in place? How do you retain the employees if that's a key partner, right? That they're afraid that something's gonna happen to the business. Making sure that every one of my clients has the key partnerships in place has been the one thing that kind of rises to the top.

You asked me what's the main thing. It's making sure they have an integrated approach. I think when I speak to other organizations this always becomes a thing because a lot of people have their professionals, right? They have a financial person, they have a CPA, or an accountant that does work for them. They probably have a business attorney, estate planning attorneys, different bankers, and so forth. But are those people integrated? Are they speaking to one another at least once a year, twice a year at least bare minimally the financial and the CPA.

There should be meetings that are held with all your professionals. For your best interest because if you don't have that, things are falling through the cracks, right? Maybe it's revenue, maybe tax optimization hasn't been addressed. Maybe it's employee benefits, right? If you're in the growth phase and you want to not only retain your employees but grow your firm and you know that you're gonna be adding three, six, more workforce next year. What does that look like? How can you work with your financial professionals and your accountants to make sure that the growth is happening and it's optimized as it's happening?

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I think that I've seen actually,  I know I've seen some really strange pitfalls when clients don't have a plan in place. We're trying to get to them and educate them and say, Hey, these are things you need to think about. It's okay if you don't have that today. It's okay if something's broken. Talk to people, and kick the tires on talking with several advisors. Make sure that they're willing and able to work with each other, right? I think that it goes without saying you're gonna have a better time. The business is gonna be in a better stronghold. You're gonna have less stress and sleep better if those things are optimized around you.

Gresham Harkless 08:21

Would you consider that to be your secret sauce? That ability to be able to I guess see the different pieces and be able to bring them all together? Is that what you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Jenevieve Lenz 08:32

I would say that is, I think that a lot of people are looking in the financial world or the trade they're looking with kind of like blinders on, right? They think of revenue first. They think I need to do X, Y, and Z to make money for myself. But if you have an expanded awareness and realize that doing the right thing for these people might not be an immediate financial impact on you, right? I've met some medical clients specifically and the main thing for them was they had a recent death in the family and they wanted to make sure their estate planning was buttoned up right from the business side, and from the personal side. They had another, one of them had never done it. One of them hadn't done it in years.

Walking through that, connecting them with a trusted advisor attorney that could do the estate plan and set the proper agreements in place for their business, that was number one. It doesn't put money in my pocket, but that was the right step to do. Then of course, backend and coming back to the planning aspect, I think especially now for business owners, I've seen it and I've seen it several times in 2020, those that have brought on new advisors. Or at least advisors that are integrating with some of their current advisors, they're more likely to see an entire impact that's positive on their enterprise, value on both their personal and business lives, right?

So that's key. Something might not be in place that they don't even know is missing until they start interviewing and talking to other people and saying gee, I don't have that integration. Maybe I should talk to a few more people and see if I can integrate that for better business and personal success. I think that answers your question, right?

Gresham Harkless 09:58

Absolutely. I wanted to switch gears a little bit. I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Jenevieve Lenz 10:09

I could say there's a couple of things that make me more efficient. Number one is delegation. I think there's not a person I know that's risen to the top that wasn't able to be a more efficient delegator. So that's that, and I say delegate, it doesn't just mean to your assistant, right? A lot of people have an assistant and that's the first person you go to. I think delegation to other people within your company and finding out, I think Steve Jobs even said it right. You hire people that have a skill set that you don't, and then you give them that work and you trust them to do it.

We said earlier about hiring somebody to do your social media. I'm not great with paperwork, right? So I have some people on my team and I can just call them and say, look, here's all the data. Here's the stuff. You make it look pretty. Please compile it. Please fill out these applications and then shoot it back to me. It's great because you have a couple of sets of eyes. Not only is it done for me, but it's a couple of sets of eyes to review it and proofread it. So delegation is cued.

I would say a couple of hacks are also good reading material, right? I'm always grabbing snippets of articles. I'm looking to basically surround myself with bits of information, whether it's financial, or personal a mindset that is huge. There's a book out there called Mindset The New Psychology of Success because if you don't have the right mindset, you're not gonna get anywhere, right? We all know that. There's another book that I've been reading, and I read it at the beach this last year, and it's called Love Does.

It's a personal read by Bob Goff, but it just a mindset expander talking about going forth into the world and doing everything you do from your personal to your business to how you treat your employees, to even how you treat the person down the street that, maybe was involved in a car accident with love, like looking at it through a different lens. That was a game-changer for me. It made me feel like I wanted to go out into the world and treat everybody with more love.

It's hard to do that because there's a lot of negativity and the news is there, and we're being bombarded with stuff day in, day out. I turn off the TV now more than I I dial into the financial channels. I dial into what I need to know and then it's off. I turn it off. I don't want the noise. So turning off the noise helps you to be in your mind and think a little bit more clearly as well.

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Gresham Harkless 12:02

I appreciate those hacks. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Jenevieve Lenz 12:13

Ooh, that's a good one. Hop into a time machine and tell my younger business self, I would say to find those people that exude confidence and that you can see a positive trend, right? The people that are not the naysayers that say that it won't work, right? There are plenty of them out there.

I think people that I talk to that start their own companies, some of the worst people to get advice from our family members, right? They don't have confidence that it's gonna work out. They don't want to see you get hurt. I think that's the issue, right? So think outside the box. Don't talk to family members. I know you're gonna want to and they're gonna wanna know what you're doing. But if you have an interest in an industry like I did when I was a kid and I knew I wanted to be involved with business owners, but I didn't necessarily wanna run a restaurant or country, even though I loved cooking and baking, and I loved the whole hospitality aspect, but that wasn't for me.

I didn't see myself. So I went and I actually found the top advisor at Merrill at the time, and his name is Bob. And I said, Bob, I need to talk to you. I think there are some things going wrong with my family. There are inherited assets that aren't, there's something wrong. I can just feel it in my bones. He became the best advocate and best partner that I had. So, I wish I knew that earlier. I wish I knew that, 5, or 10 years earlier than when I found it. I think every high school kid or college kid that might be listening to this, or a parent that's listening to it, that has kids of that age find a mentor, find a good mentor in the space that your child or yourself is interested in.

Just grab, hold to their coattails, and let it fly.

Gresham Harkless 13:35

Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So, Jenevieve what does being a CEO mean to you?

Jenevieve Lenz 13:44

CEO means Chief Executive Officer. I know that, but to me, CEO means being chief in your own mind. Chief Idea Generator, chief Hospitality. I feel because that's my background, right? I was waiting tables when I was nine years old.

People don't need to know that you have all the answers and you don't, right. None of us have all the answers. They just need to know that you care. That's it. They need to know that you care and the rest will take care of itself.

Gresham Harkless 14:11

That's extremely powerful. One of my favorite quotes I say is People don't care how much till they know how much you care. I think that speaks directly to what you just said as being an understanding that you'll find a way because you have a person's, best interest at heart. Whether like you said you're waiting tables or you're running a company or you're anything in between. Showing that you're caring and having people's best interests at heart is so huge.

So I love that you mentioned that as your definition. I love that you embody that and do that with your clients as well too. I truly appreciate that and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers, and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Jenevieve Lenz 14:48

Thanks, Gresh. Thanks again everyone for joining us today. It was a pleasure to be interviewed by you Gresh. I love your energy. I think that's one of the things that we first attracted to each other wanting to have a conversation. I do look forward to doing a run in the snow with hot cocoa or something if that's up in the air.

Get hold of me. I'm in the Ruston, Virginia area but I am licensed in eight states, so you can either call me at 375 8040. So that's area code 703, of course, 703- 375- 8040. My email address I'm sure Gresh will share it after the show. But if you need to, you can just go to the First Financial group and I'm one of the button advisors that's listed there under the rest in the office.

I welcome questions, I welcome emails and I'm on LinkedIn as well, so LinkedIn with me and that's probably the best way for us to connect and find some time to spend together.

Gresham Harkless 15:30

Thank you so much Jenevieve. We will definitely have the links and information in the show notes and I'm definitely looking forward to that run with hot cocoa and maybe lots and lots of bundles of clothes as well too.

So I appreciate you again so much and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:41

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at

I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Get your driven CEO Gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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