Understanding Our Money Mindset Lineage with Bear Hebert

Once we understand how the system we live in impacts our relationship with money, we can start thinking about it in a much broader view -- and we can start considering using our businesses as a means to start evening out some of that inequality.

Susan Boles
January 12, 2021
Quote: "I grew up working poor and my parents always had many jobs. Because of that, I have scarcity patterning around money. But I also have the belief that I can be really scrappy and resourceful. If there is money available, I can go out and find it." - Bear Hebert

What's YOUR earliest memory of money?

Mine is going with my parents to open my own bank account at our local credit union.

A lot of our experiences with and stories around money come from our childhood: how we saw money handled and what we got told about money, to name a few.

All of us have a completely unique and individual relationship to money that's influenced by not JUST those factors, but also the impact of every decision (good or bad) we've made with our own money and the impact of every decision (good and bad) we've seen OTHER people make with THEIR money.

Your relationship with and access to money is impacted by your societal class, your demographics, and your generational wealth (or lack thereof).

It's also influenced by the society you live in -- and if you're in the US, at least, that means a capitalist society. One where power and money are often interchangeable and where the depth of inequality is stunning -- and only getting more dramatic.

Some of the workaround examining our relationship to our money also needs to examine how the system we live in impacts that relationship. Because it DOES.

Once we understand that, we can start thinking about our relationship to money in a much broader view -- and we can start considering using our businesses as a means to start evening out some of that inequality.

My guest today spends a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and teaching this work.

Bear Hebert is a radical life coach, social justice educator, and anti-capitalist business consultant. In work and in life, Bear actively looks at the intersections of power and privilege and will ask you to do the same, pushing both you and your business in the direction of more liberated moments. Their current offerings include Anti-Capitalist Business Consulting and their online course, Freely: An Anti-Capitalist Guide To Pricing Your Work.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • The value of doing money mindset work
  • How your relationship to money affects just about every area of your business, including a deep dive on pricing
  • How Bear approaches making their services more accessible
  • And what accessible actually MEANS in the first place...

Episode Transcript

Bear Hebert (00:00):

I have had to really untether from the idea that I have any clue about what is affordable for someone else, or what is expensive for someone else, and that those ideas of expensiveness, or affordability, expensiveness and accessibility, those are not fixed numbers, they're very shifting depending on context. The sense of wanting things to be accessible to people based on my own version of what access looks like, is a really distorted way of approaching things.

Susan Boles (00:37):

What's your earliest memory of money? Mine is going with my parents to open my own bank account at our local credit union. A lot of our experiences with and stories around money come from our childhood, and how we saw money handled what we got told about money, and that stuff sticks with you. I'm Susan Boles, and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit and increase your operational capacity.

Susan Boles (01:07):

We all have a completely unique and individual relationship to money that's influenced not by just those factors, but also the impact of every decision, good or bad, we've made with our own money, and the impact of every decision, good and bad, we've seen other people make with their money. Your relationship with and access to money is impacted by your societal class, your demographics, and your generational wealth, or lack thereof, and it's also influenced by the society you live in.

Susan Boles (01:40):

If you're in the US, at least, that means a capitalist society, one where power and money are often interchangeable, and where the depth of inequality is stunning, and only getting more dramatic. Some of the work around examining our relationship to our money also needs to examine how the system that we live in impacts that relationship, because it does. Once we understand that, we can start thinking about our relationship to money in a much broader view, and we can start considering using our businesses as a means to start evening out some of that inequality.

Susan Boles (02:17):

My guest today spends a lot of time thinking about, talking about and teaching this work. Bear Hebert is a radical life coach, social justice educator and anti-capitalist business consultant. In work and in life, Bear actively looks at the intersections of power and privilege, and will ask you to do the same, pushing both you and your business in the direction of more liberated moments. Bear and I talk about the value of doing money mindset work, and how your relationship to money affects just about every area of your business. And we do a deep dive on pricing. We'll talk about how Bear approaches making their services more accessible, and talk about what accessible actually means in the first place.

Susan Boles (03:03):

Hi, Bear, thanks for being here today.

Bear Hebert (03:04):

Oh, Susan, thanks so much for having me.

Susan Boles (03:07):

When we're dealing with money, and our relationship with money, one of the most common pieces of advice, when you come up against issues is to do money mindset work, and that that is supposed to get you through your issues. So when you come up to a bump in the road where your own mindset around money is starting to create some limitations, you get told to go do money mindset work. But that could mean a lot of different things. How do you think about money mindset work?

Bear Hebert (03:34):

Yeah, I love this question, because how I tend to work with my clients around money and money mindset, I think is maybe a little bit different than some of the standard online business advice. The way that I tend to orient my clients around money mindset is that I encourage them to think about specifically, their lineages of belief around money and work. Rather than saying what are your personal limiting beliefs or whatever, actually really trying to trace those money mindset issues back in time and being able to say, what did I learn about money or work from my parents? What did I learn about work or money from my siblings? What have I learned about work or money from my grandparents? Basically, all the people around you that have had an influence on how each of us has come to think about money, and then from there to really think, and what is it that I actually believe?

Bear Hebert (04:47):

I tend to work with people who care about social justice, who care about being in ethical alignment inside their business. Frequently, they find themselves at odds with the typical business advice and their own heart, their own ethics, their own inclination around these things. These old ideas that may have come passed down through our family line, through our lineages, that there's frequently a deeper truth underneath that you already know to be true, that you're holding on to, that you're like, "Oh, yeah, my parents taught me that."

Bear Hebert (05:32):

For example, the only way that I could be secure in my life is to have a 9:00 to 5:00 job with a salary. That may be a belief. That's an example from someone else, not for me. My own money lineage stuff is different than that. But that is a really common one, I think.

Susan Boles (05:50):

Yeah, that's very solidly my family lineage.

Bear Hebert (05:53):

Yeah. Right? I think it's a really common one that the... I think, especially for folks who are in small businesses who are working for themselves that there could be this really pervasive sense that unless you have a salary job that's regular, that's coming from someone else who is employing you, that there will never be anything but lack and scarcity. But that if you dig a little deeper there, there may be a deeper truth, a deeper knowing underneath that that says, maybe it's possible that I could make enough money for my business. Maybe it's possible that my job was never really that's secure at all.

Bear Hebert (06:32):

Really starting to dig in and see what else might be possible in addition to or instead of these deeper, familiarly passed on ideas around money.

Susan Boles (06:44):

Yeah, I think that's so interesting, because so much of how we get indoctrinated into money comes from our family, and how they are teaching us about it, because we don't teach money in schools or in common culture, money is not one of the things that we teach. Most of your understanding of money, and how you relate to money comes from your family structure, or your childhood relationship with money. So, I think it's really interesting to go all the way back and understand how far back that generational stuff tracks back to.

Bear Hebert (07:30):

Yeah. I think that the thing that I think can be really fun about that too, for me is that we can also then look at the good stuff, like what beliefs about money that your family had might actually serve you? I think of my own life, my parents, I grew up working class and working poor and my parents always had many jobs. My mom always had three jobs. A belief that, because of that, I have tons of scarcity patterning around money, but one of the things I also got is the belief that I can be really scrappy, and really resourceful, and that if there is money available, I can go out and find it, I can go out and get it. That's a belief that I saw my parents doing that through my whole childhood that they were always hustling for the next thing, and that I can choose, each of us can choose what are the pieces of that money mindset lineage that you want to hold on to? What are the pieces that you want to amplify? What are the pieces that you want to lean into, and what are the pieces that maybe aren't serving you or aren't relevant for you that you could really let go of?

Susan Boles (08:52):

I love the idea of just letting go of it. It's easier said than done.

Bear Hebert (08:58):


Susan Boles (08:58):

But also feels very freeing.

Bear Hebert (09:02):

Yeah, right. Exactly. I think it's definitely not... Any kind of mindset work is never one and done. You don't just have a new thought, and then poof, the old thought never returns. It's a repetitive practice, you have to think the new thought 10,000 times before it sticks around. Definitely a lifelong work, lifelong labor.

Susan Boles (09:27):

There's real value, often even real tangible financial value to doing work on your own relationship with money, your mindset around money, because our relationship with money impacts so much of what we do as business owners; how we price our services, how we decide to invest our time, our resources. It affects who we choose to work with. Talk to me a little about that, how do you approach the value of working on your mindset or your relationship with money?

Bear Hebert (09:57):

Yeah, I don't have any specific dollar amounts in terms of return on investment for working on money mindset that I can point to. But I have really seen the ways that my own ideas around... Let me backtrack a little bit, I have had real concern about wanting to make sure that my work is financially accessible to anyone who wants to have access to it, right. That's because of my social justice analysis, because of my orientation to my work and the world, I want to make sure that that my work is available, and that money isn't a barrier that keeps people away from being able to work with me. Many of my clients have the same inclination of really caring that other people can access it.

Bear Hebert (10:48):

But then, because of that, I have had to do, in terms of my own money mindset work, have had to really untether from the idea that I have any clue about what is affordable for someone else, or what is expensive for someone else, and that those ideas of expensiveness, or affordability, expensiveness and accessibility, those are not fixed numbers, they're very shifting, depending on context.

Bear Hebert (11:23):

For the longest time, I was really stuck in a place of putting a max cap on how much I could charge for anything. For many years in business, I felt like I couldn't charge more than $1000... I couldn't charge more than $900. I had this block in my mind that if I charged $1,000 for something, that it was just this astronomical number that no one on the planet could possibly afford. It was actually a friend of mine who's also in business who suggested that I just take my regular package, and instead of raising my hourly rate for it, just double the package, offer twice as many sessions and therefore twice as much money. That was the thing that got me over that mental block around charging more than $1,000, and I just was like, okay, well, just as an experiment, I'm going to put this bigger, more expensive package on my website.

Bear Hebert (12:17):

I was totally floored that suddenly, many people were interested in giving me giving me $1800. I was flabbergasted because to my mind, that was a number that was just so expensive, so unaffordable, and that no one... Because it was expensive to me, I assumed that it was expensive to everyone, and that it's just not true. For many people, that number is a totally doable number. In fact, now I charge a lot more than that. That was several years ago that I finally broke through that $1,000 barrier. But it turns out that my ideas of what's expensive or accessible is really rooted in my own lived experience with money and that many other people are having a wildly different experience around money.

Bear Hebert (13:12):

The sense of wanting things to be accessible to people, based on my own version of what access looks like is a really distorted way of approaching things. Instead, now I'm like, okay, let me base things on facts, rather than on my feelings about money. I could go in and do the calculations of how much more money I'm making now that I don't have this internal block around how much I can charge. Now, it's like, yeah, I can charge $5,000, I could charge $10,000, I could charge whatever amount and I know that for someone, that's a doable number.

Susan Boles (13:55):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), I like that. I think that's a really common scenario for a lot of business owners, especially service business owners, where the pricing is essentially random. Everybody's packages and what they're offering, and what their experience is, is so disparate, that there's really no way to compare apples to apples. So, how you choose to price your services is really arbitrary. We're not pricing widgets. There's no comparison shopping, really.

Susan Boles (14:32):

I think in situations like that, how you view money and your own approach to money can be such a limiting factor for you. Especially as you're getting to what for you might be "next level", I think everybody has a next level of, I couldn't possibly charge any more than X or I can't imagine making any more than this amount of dollars.

Bear Hebert (14:57):


Susan Boles (14:58):

That there is a number two, that is unfathomable, wherever that is on the actual number scale, and being able to process that and come to terms with it can be something that allows you to get past that as a limitation for yourself.

Bear Hebert (15:18):

Yes. Yeah, exactly. You're really so right that it is really arbitrary. I have a couple of thoughts there. One is that, I think... The way that I... I teach a whole online course about this, but the way that I advise people to set their prices is actually based on how much money you personally need, rather than what you think other people can pay, or what other people are charging for similar services, but to actually really crunch your own numbers and go like, how much money do I need to live the life that I'm trying to live? How much money do I need to be able to pay my taxes, save for retirement, go on a trip, whenever traveling is the thing we can do again, whatever the... How much money do I need in order to have a life that's beautiful, that has space and money to include beauty in it? That's the sort of criteria that I look at?

Bear Hebert (16:14):

Then how many hours can I work? How many clients do I think I'll have? Then basically, just do that math of how much money do I need divided by how many hours can I work, or how many clients do I think I can get? Then that gives you a starting point for your base hourly rate. I think the thing to me that's really freeing about doing things that way is that I'm not personally interested in perpetual financial growth for its own sake. I actually think that it's part of why the world is so inequitable is because we've prioritized constant churning growth forever.

Bear Hebert (16:55):

Instead, to me, I'm really interested in figuring out what enough feels like, what does a good, beautiful, rich life look like? By rich, I don't mean financially rich, I mean rich with texture and with experiences, what does that look like, and how much money do I need to have that? Then just being able to find contentment there, and not always needing to reach for the next thing, not always needing to keep growing, keep striving, which I think is a real, harsh contrast to a whole lot of the standard business advice and money mindset advice. Probably some money mindset coach out there would tell you that my idea that I should not constantly be growing is my own money mindset issues, but whatever.

Susan Boles (17:55):

There's just so much social and cultural programming, that choosing to be content at whatever your enough is, can be a real struggle, because you're constantly having to fight all of those external messages that says, you should be the next Amazon. Quite frankly, he has more money than any country.

Bear Hebert (18:21):

It's unconscionable.

Susan Boles (18:22):

That is the best... I'm like, why do you need that money? What could you possibly be... It's so life changing. You could have such as an amazing impact on the world using that for literally anything else, do anything else with it.

Bear Hebert (18:42):


Susan Boles (18:43):

But that's the message that we get sold. I'm sure you're right, that there's somebody out there that says that's a money mindset issue, but I think it's also comforting, at least for me to say, here's where enough is, that's good, I'm comfortable there, I'm happy there. I think it's only a limitation if you intentionally choose it to be a limitation.

Bear Hebert (19:11):

Right. I think for so many small business owners, we show up to our work with all of our self-worth issues, all of our trying to get our unmet needs met through our work and that sense of, I feel like there's such a correlation between I never have enough money, and I can never be good enough, I am never good enough. That really, for me, part of the practice of learning to sit with what enough looks like financially is also a practice of looking at what enough looks like for me as a human. How much effort, how much goodness, how much kindness and compassion is enough? At what point can I say, I'm okay just as I am. This amount of money is okay, just as it is. I'm okay as a person just like this, and I don't always have to be striving for greater self improvement. Which, of course is really tricky. I'm a coach, I help people with-

Susan Boles (20:19):

That's a really hard place to sit, I think.

Bear Hebert (20:23):

Yeah. I think it's really tricky. It's really tricky to just be okay with who you are, and to let, for me, the practice of a lot of my money mindset work is about finding that enoughness in all aspects, not just financially.

Susan Boles (20:39):

Yeah, I like the approach of it as a practice, that this is something that you are constantly practicing, not something that you can go and, okay, I'm going to go work on my mindset right now, I'm going to work on my money mindset and check the box, and I'm done. I'm good for a while. Because that's just not how it works in real life. We might get past one block or one mindset issue for this specific scenario where we are accomplishing it, and the next time that you run into that issue, when you decide if you take a next level or you go into a different area, it comes rearing back up. So, I love the idea of having it as a practice that it's just constantly working on sitting with it and being okay with it.

Bear Hebert (21:35):

Yeah, definitely. As you were saying that, I was imagining us doing money mindset workouts, like little dumbbell, pumping money mindset dumbbells.

Susan Boles (21:45):

But I feel like that's the approach to so much of the personal development work, mindset or otherwise, that comes with being a business owner, is the messages that if you go and you work with a coach, or you check the box, and you go off and you do your money mindset work that it's done. I think so much of being a business owner, so much of that is an evolution, and it's a journey, and it's really only done when you die. There's not really a done to it, which I think is a hard... At least for me, it's really hard place to sit, that there's no... I'm an Enneagram Three, so I'm very achievement oriented. It's a real sitting with enoughness, and trying to readjust to not being as achievement oriented, is very difficult for me. It's something that I am always working on.

Bear Hebert (22:45):

Yeah, I understand that, definitely. I'm an Enneagram Eight. So, I also have some of that driving force, which I think is an asset in business in a lot of ways. But yeah, I think there's a paradox there of how challenging it can be to really sit with ourselves and sit with enoughness to try to find contentment with what we have and who we are. There's also a freedom to knowing that it really is never done. Because then it means that I don't have to run as fast, it means I don't have to work quite as hard, because I'm like, okay, well, it's not like once I surmount this obstacle, that then there are no more obstacles ever. It's like, so I can take my time a little bit more and be a little easier on myself as I do the work, because it's not as urgent as my heart, mind, nervous system might sometimes make it feel like it is.

Susan Boles (23:52):

Yes. It's that time of year, time to set some new goals or consider your New Year's resolution. If you're like a lot of business owners I know, you might be thinking that this is the year you're going to get your shit together when it comes to your money. You start reviewing that P&L statement you get every month, you're going to be more intentional about how you spend and closely tracking the ROI you're getting. You're going to get clear on exactly how you're making money, and how you can make more of it without working yourself into the ground.

Susan Boles (24:28):

Now, if you're both nodding your head and feeling the anxiety rise in your chest, as I describe these financial goals, I see you, we all have the best of intentions about how we're going to manage our business finances. But few people actually follow through on learning how to manage their business's money, or execute the financial plans they create. You want to feel like you're on top of your money stuff. But it's tough to climb over all the questions and reports and bank accounts and spreadsheets.

Susan Boles (25:00):

That's where I come in. I help you think like a CFO. Working together, you'll learn the skills you need to confidently make database decisions about how to spend your money and how to structure your business so you make more. You'll build a more resilient business that's efficient, and easy to run, and you'll create meaningful financial processes so you're never caught with your pants down again. Think Like a CFO is a six month accelerator, online workshop and coaching program that will teach you to think about your business like a CFO would.

Susan Boles (25:33):

We'll cover six core topics, including risk and resilience, investing in your business, scaling sustainably, and your relationship with money. You'll also get dedicated implementation time and live support, so you don't get stuck on the details or the execution, and you'll get a clear path to true small business financial literacy, so you can connect your money to every other aspect of your work; from daily operations, to long vacations.

Susan Boles (26:03):

Think Like a CFO is enrolling right now. When you register before December 31st, you'll also get my course, Not Rocket Finance, which is the perfect primer for Think Like a CFO. To find out more about Think Like a CFO, and finally get your business shit together, go to scalespark.co/cfo.

Susan Boles (26:27):

Let's talk a little bit about money mindset work more in depth. There's a lot of money mindset people out there that really push the manifestation, this idea that if you think about something hard enough, or you can will it into being, that the money you want, or the money you need will just show up for you. Maybe it will. There's research that says, committing to a goal makes you more likely to accomplish that goal, generally. But that money won't necessarily show up for everyone.

Susan Boles (27:03):

If it doesn't show up for them, are they just not doing it right, or are they not manifesting it hard enough? What's your approach on that manifestation aspect that is really, I think, ingrained in a lot of the money mindset, and even just some coaching practices?

Bear Hebert (27:20):

Yeah, thanks for this question. I feel like it's such an important conversation for us to be having in the self-employment online business space. I think, to me, the place where a lot of manifestation teaching misses the mark, is that it puts an overemphasis on individual agency, and it totally decontextualizes us out of the systemic and cultural contexts that we live inside of. All of us are alive in this human form. For most of us in the United States, and probably in lots of places in Europe, I don't know where all your listeners are, but most of us are functioning inside of capitalism, and there are these real, systemic issues that make it more possible for some of us to, "manifest money" than others of us.

Bear Hebert (28:22):

I think there's a real tendency to think that, my abundance mentality is what made me wealthier, is what made someone wealthy. But if we really look at it, it's like, okay, what typically makes people wealthy is whiteness, being white, being male, having grown up with family wealth, having access to a family that is already wealthy. Those are the main factors that make it likely that someone is able to, "manifest money".

Bear Hebert (28:56):

The flip side of that, I think, is that there's a lot of victim blaming that happens around poverty, and this idea that a poverty mentality or a scarcity mentality, scarcity mindset is what causes people to be poor. But if we actually look at the demographics, if we actually look at the cultural context, it's like, being a person of color is something that makes you more likely to be poor. Also, the historical access to wealth, those are actually the predictors of someone's access to money or access to wealth.

Bear Hebert (29:31):

I think there's a real... The money mindset world, especially the manifestation law of attraction brand of things, tends to really turn a blind eye to this cultural context and instead says, well, your individual behavior, your individual thoughts are the things that draw money to you. But in reality, it's not that way. If we look at the facts, it's just not true.

Susan Boles (30:01):

Yeah, I think this is especially... It's really, really apparent. If you look at the world of VC capital, and who gets invested in. I think I saw something that, there are companies that have gotten VC capital that it's one company, and they get more VC capital than all female founders, or all people of color founders in an entire year. The access to capital is a very real issue when you're talking about trying to grow a company, particularly if you're growing a big company, less of a small business. But even in small business, your ability to access credit or capital or loans to get started is heavily impacted by your demographics and your personal situation, which is heavily impacted by the system.

Bear Hebert (31:01):

Yes. Yeah, exactly. I didn't know those statistics, but I'm totally not surprised by that at all. There's so many studies around this, around the racial wealth gap and how wealth has accumulated in families over time. It's stark, even adjusted for all other factors, like having a college degree and education level and that kind of thing, race is just a predictor, it just is. It's a really strong predictor of wealth and net worth in the United States, anyway.

Bear Hebert (31:40):

I think the tendency to want to overlook that, or downplay that, it does a real disservice to all of us. I think, at best, it's in a sense overlooking, and at worst, it's like a real intentional downplaying and victim blaming that people leverage to make more money, which is just-

Susan Boles (32:10):

Yeah, absolutely.

Bear Hebert (32:11):

I think there's a lot of unlearning that we need to do as a culture as a whole, and specifically in the online business space, there is work that is, I think, specific for us to do around challenging that idea that if you just think hard enough that you can get the money that you need, and that if you are struggling financially, that it's your own fault.

Susan Boles (32:34):

Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. Take me a little bit in that direction. What are some things that we could consider or take into account, either when we're working on our own relationship with money or in our businesses, especially if we want to work towards generally doing less harm or orienting ourselves towards justice as a business owner?

Bear Hebert (33:01):

Yeah, I have so many thoughts about this. The first thing that I... Again, I think I said this already, but the first thing I really recommend people do is to start by setting your rates based on what you need, not based on anything else. I think that it is really anti-capitalist idea to say, I should charge based on the money that I need to get, not based on the money that I think I can acquire.

Susan Boles (33:33):

This is very contradictory to the common, charge what you're worth kind of pitch.

Bear Hebert (33:40):

Yes. That pitch, the charge what you're worth pitch, I have some real controversial, perhaps, opinions about that.

Susan Boles (33:51):

Feel free to rant. We're okay with rants here.

Bear Hebert (33:52):

Great. Well, my personal rant on that, is that taking worth out of the equation is so important and is so useful, because then it makes it so that when you charge based on the money that you need, it creates an energetic clarity, where in... If I know I need to charge $200 an hour, just pulling some numbers out of the air, if I need to charge $200 an hour in order to get the money that I need, in order to live the life that I'm trying to live. That then when I go on to a sales call with the client, I'm not having any kind of internal like, hemming and hawing about, am I allowed to charge this much? Are they going to think I'm whatever, by asking for this amount of money because I know, this is just what I need, and I'm allowed to get what I need, right?

Bear Hebert (34:46):

Is doing some of that work around feeling like you're allowed to have what you need, that may be part of your money, mindset work. It has been part of mine, but it's really freeing to know that my numbers are not actually arbitrary, they're different, maybe, than somebody who lives in a city with a higher cost of living, they're different than somebody who has three kids, I don't have any kids. My rates are based on living in a small city, single, childless, a pretty low overhead, and I charge what I charge, because that's the money that I need to have the life that I'm trying to have.

Bear Hebert (35:23):

The sense of what your worth is, tying that to money, I think is so deeply damaging for our psyches, and to be able to just untangle that a little bit and go like, okay, this is the money that I need, and that doesn't have anything to do with my worth. My worth as a human is innate and inherent. My worth as a human is a birthright, and it has nothing to do with my prices.

Susan Boles (35:48):

Yeah, I love that. Are there other things you think we should be thinking about or taking into consideration as we work on our own relationship to money or just practices we can put in place as business owners?

Bear Hebert (36:03):

Oh, yeah. Other business practices, when I think about causing less harm, my constant refrain from my clients is that... Which I think is also a little bit radical and a little bit potentially controversial, is that it's really important. Actually, if you're trying to have an equitable business, it's really important to have all the things that you offer also be available for free to people who need them, which is like a wild thing to say, because there's so much messaging about not undercharging, and not underselling yourself. But I'm not saying you need to give all your work away for free. But the idea that if you're trying to create a business that has accessibility, financial accessibility built into it, that accessibility has to go all the way down to $0. I'll explain how I make that work financially.

Susan Boles (37:04):

I'm like, I want to hear the logistics of this. You've got me hooked, I am interested in the logistics of this. Talk to me about how you implement that.

Bear Hebert (37:15):

Right. The basic framework for this is that, no matter how cheap something is, it will always be too expensive for someone. I witnessed this last summer, I ran freely my online course about pricing your work, and it was $19 for a 90 minute webinar. Live webinar in 90 minutes, 20 bucks. I thought to myself, great, this is a number, it's super low, low barrier to entry. Most people should be able-

Susan Boles (37:43):

I feel like that's probably pretty accessible for most folks.

Bear Hebert (37:45):

Right. You would think, right?

Susan Boles (37:47):

Or at least I would think.

Bear Hebert (37:48):

I also thought, except that then I put it out there, and I got not a ton of messages, but I got a handful of messages from people that said, hey, I don't get paid for two more weeks, is there any way I can do this for free, or any way I can whatever? I put... I always because it is the practice that I have, I always put like, if this number is not accessible for you, let me know, and we'll work it out. I was surprised at the number of people for whom $20 was just not a number they can reach.

Bear Hebert (38:20):

I think there's a real... I see this all the time, people do things sliding scale, and it's like, it's $40 to $60 sliding scale. I'm like, I see your heart in that, I see the intention in that, but in reality for most people who can pay $40, they can also pay $60.

Susan Boles (38:35):

They can pay $60.

Bear Hebert (38:36):

Yeah, exactly. For people who can't pay $40, they may not be able to pay $5. Creating a wider spread that allows for people who really, truly don't have enough to be able to say, I want access to this service, or this class or this whatever, and I can't pay for it, or I can pay very little for it. Then also, you have to do... The logistics of it is that you have to then charge a high enough rate, generally speaking, that your clients who have access to more money are on the back end subsidizing the people with less.

Bear Hebert (39:11):

I have clients who pay me like $350 an hour and I have clients who pay me $35 an hour because that's all they can afford, and those two numbers averaged out to a rate for me that works out hourly. It works out so that that is covering my needs. My experience of... For a long time, I tried to do, or for a while anyway, I was trying to do sliding scale, letting people opt into paying more or paying less. But the problem is that because of capitalism, everybody feels like they never have enough, even people with a lot of money... Some of my favorite statistics about this, there's a study, I think from... I always forget if it... I think it's from Harvard Business School, interviewed people who have $25 million or more in assets. So, hyper wealthy people.

Bear Hebert (40:05):

Then asked them, "Do you feel financially secure?" Two thirds of the respondents to this survey said, "No." These people with $25 million in assets-

Susan Boles (40:16):

What are you doing with $25 million? Can you take a little bit of the cash out of your, I'm going to roll around in cash room, and maybe put that in a savings account so that you feel financially secure.

Bear Hebert (40:28):

Right. I know. Then the wild thing to me is that the follow up question to that was, if no, if you don't feel financially secure, estimate about how much more money you would need to have in order to feel financially secure. The average dollar amount was about 20% more than they already have, which to me is just so illustrative that we don't feel... I think that, that rings so true for me. I frequently, when I feel like I don't have enough, I don't-

Susan Boles (40:59):

You don't want 20% more.

Bear Hebert (41:00):

Exactly. I don't need twice as much money as I currently have. But if I just had a little bit more, then I would feel okay. If I just had 20% more, then I would be able to relax, then I would feel financially secure, right?

Susan Boles (41:14):


Bear Hebert (41:14):

But I think that sense of scarcity, and always wanting just a little bit more chases us through all the income brackets.

Susan Boles (41:25):

Yeah, that is so interesting.

Bear Hebert (41:27):

Asking people to opt into paying more goes directly counter to that sense of scarcity. Who would opt into wanting to pay more for a service if they could pay less?

Susan Boles (41:40):

If you could get it for less?

Bear Hebert (41:41):

Nobody wants to do that?

Susan Boles (41:44):

No, you're right.

Bear Hebert (41:45):

Unless you're operating in... I've seen sliding scale be successful for people who are really politicized healers, people who are operating in a community of activists, or people who their whole community is on board and is already having this conversation about wealth inequality, maybe in some of those kinds of circumstances, a sliding scale can work, because there may be enough people who are financially comfortable, who are politicized, who would choose to pay more. But the vast majority of people with money don't have that kind of political analysis and aren't opting into paying more.

Susan Boles (42:24):


Bear Hebert (42:24):

All of that is to say that the way that I have rectified this issue is by not making it a choice that they have to opt into. I just say, the rate is X. If that's not affordable for you, let me know. So, then for everybody who that number is affordable for, they just pay it.

Susan Boles (42:45):

They just say it.

Bear Hebert (42:46):

They just pay it, no big deal, whatever. Then for the people for whom that number is prohibitive, then they can send me an email and say, "Hey, this doesn't work for me, or whatever." I typically tend to... I could tell you more about the actual back and logistics of how I make that work, if that's interesting for people. But yeah.

Susan Boles (43:04):

Personally I'm very interested. When people reach out and they say, "Hey, that's not accessible." Are they reaching out and saying, "Hey, that's not accessible, but X would be?" Are they saying, "Hey, that's not accessible, what kind of a deal can you do for me?" How do you approach that response? Because I think the nuance there is really where the success of these sorts of programs happens. It's not necessarily in the logistics of, how do you set up a sliding scale, it's more about how to you communicate, and address the nuances in that kind of a system?

Bear Hebert (43:45):

Yeah, I think you're totally right there. I use a different approach depending on what I'm selling. If I'm selling something that's an online course, where it's one to many, I set up a discount code on my website, that's generally made publicly available. Especially if it's an online course that there's an infinite number of spots in the class or a pretty high number of spots in the class, I don't make people even email me about it. I just say-

Susan Boles (44:15):

You don't want to bother with the logistics-

Bear Hebert (44:16):

I don't want to bother with the-

Susan Boles (44:18):

You think this is you, just put in-

Bear Hebert (44:19):

Here's the code, here's how you use it. I'll typically give a half off code and a totally free code. Then I usually include my Venmo information and I'm like, if you want to pay me a different amount besides full price, half price or zero, you can Venmo me the difference and just include a note that says, "Here's what the difference is." So that people have a little bit more control, if they're like, "Well, I can't pay 50 bucks but I could pay 20 bucks." Then I'm like, great, you can send me that. I tend to let people do that, that way.

Bear Hebert (44:50):

Then when I'm working with one on one clients, all of those financial conversations are happening live on a sales call. I don't negotiate. It's not a negotiation, it's not like how good of a deal can you get from me? That's not the conversation that we're having. But when people, when we get on the call, and we decide we would like to work together, and I say, "Okay, here's how it works. It's six months, it's $2,100, here's the deal. Here's what the payment plan would look like. Would that work for you, basically?"

Bear Hebert (45:28):

Then when someone says, "That's really out of my budget." The question that I ask is, what is the number that would feel doable for you per month? If we're going to go on a payment plan monthly for the next six months, what is the number that would feel doable for you?" Then usually, people say something that's just a little bit less than what the regular price is. I'm like, "Great, totally fine, let's do it. Let's go."

Bear Hebert (45:52):

Then sometimes it's like... Like I said, I have clients who pay me much, much less, pay me 10% of my full price rate, and I have enough clients who are paying at the highest end of things, and that highest end of things is set high enough by me. I looked at the numbers and was like, how high does that number need to be in order to give away some spots for zero or to give away some spots for very little? That I'm able to do that without any resentment. I don't feel resentful of my clients who pay me less, because the clients who are paying me more subsidized that.

Susan Boles (46:26):

They're paying you enough.

Bear Hebert (46:27):


Susan Boles (46:28):

Do you have a specific set of lower priced clients that you've adjusted your capacity, so, you know you can take like, two free clients with five full time clients, or whatever it is, do you have a set number of lower priced clients that you know, you can take, and you can't really take any more than those that are given time?

Bear Hebert (46:53):


Susan Boles (46:54):

How did you approach that?

Bear Hebert (46:56):

I have those numbers, and I have not had to use them. It tends to just stay in balance. I haven't yet. Maybe after I talk on this podcast about the fact that I will work with you, for whatever price you can pay, more people will utilize that. But I think that for the most part, it just works itself out. I don't know how else to describe it, but that has not felt like a stressor. I think that's the thing that people get.

Susan Boles (47:28):

Well, I think people worry about that, of I offer this at a more accessible price, that we're indoctrinated into to the capitalist system that if people can get something for less, they're going to get something for less. The concern is always, what if nobody can pay the full price? Or what if it totally throws everything out of alignment?

Susan Boles (47:53):

It's interesting that it hasn't happened for you, and it just naturally comes to this equilibrium, which is interesting.

Bear Hebert (48:00):

Yeah, I can't really explain it, except to say that that is how it has worked out for me. I'm not sure, maybe it wouldn't work out for everyone. But in general, I think for most of my clients, it works out, and I think frequently, our own sense of, no one could possibly pay that number is the thing that gets in the way of us actually charging the number that would make it possible for us to then be able to give away some lower cost spots.

Susan Boles (48:29):

Well, it's interesting, when we talk about different strategies for pricing for accessibility, and sliding scales, and all of those sorts of things, it's interesting, because so much of it bumps up against both our money mindset issues as a provider, and the money mindset issues of the people receiving sometimes as well. That it is unusual... The structure of that, the offer, the idea of pricing for more accessibility is so unusual to us still, that it's just interesting the nuances that go into trying to build and structure your offerings that way.

Bear Hebert (49:16):

Yeah. I think... Two things. One, very occasionally I have had somebody come into a sales call, who has seen this thing on my website that says if you can't afford it, we'll talk and make it work, and they have come in ready to play hardball and are trying to negotiate with me, and I don't work with those people.

Susan Boles (49:41):

Do you want me to mention that that's probably a pretty good red flag for you.

Bear Hebert (49:43):

Yeah, I don't think that this is a good fit. I don't think that we're actually on the same page about these things. So, then I don't have to do this hardball negotiation, because they're not a good fit in other... That desire to do that shows me that they're not a good fit for me in other ways. For the clients for whom that's not the approach that they're taking, I think it... The feedback that I've gotten is that the way that I do things with money is actually really healing for people to come into a space with somebody who's like, I'm not judgmental about the fact that lots of people don't have money and can't afford my regular rates. I don't have any sense of being this benevolent being from upon high bestowing my-

Susan Boles (50:34):

Bestowing your gracious knowledge on the peons.

Bear Hebert (50:38):

Exactly. I don't approach it in that way. I just, I'm sort of like, I understand the reality of what it's like to be a person inside of capitalism. I know what it's like to not have enough, and I don't think that that should be... It just is so matter of fact to me that I don't think that should be a barrier for us to be able to get the services and the things that we need. I think people frequently, much less often than the hardball negotiators, my clients and my potential clients, I think, come with a lot of guilt and shame about not being able to pay me my full rate. I think it can be really transformative to offer people.

Bear Hebert (51:20):

I'm like, you can feel whatever you want to feel, but don't feel like that on account of me. I do not want you to feel guilt or shame. That's not what I'm going for here at all. I think it's really freeing and really healing for people to have an experience around money that really doesn't penalize them for not having enough.

Susan Boles (51:44):

Yeah, I think it's very interesting, because, yeah, as a culture, and I think probably every business owner I've ever spoken to has some sort of guilt or shame around money. Because it's just drilled into us and especially as business owners, the expectation is we understand our money shit, and we got it all together.

Bear Hebert (52:06):


Susan Boles (52:07):

That there's so much of that wrapped up in our finances and how we think about money and how we approach money, that I could absolutely see the untethering to be super freeing, and just a huh, huge sigh of relief, that it's not that kind of transaction.

Bear Hebert (52:28):

It really is. The other thing that people, especially students in my online course around money tend to worry about is, are people going to take advantage of me? One of the other strategies that I use is offering long term no interest payment plans, because frequently, for people, the problem is not that they'll never have the money, they just have a cash flow issue, and they don't have it right now. There's a lot of concern about people backing out on their payment plans, or screwing you over. They said they were going to pay it, and then they didn't pay it.

Bear Hebert (53:05):

I really think something about this approach is so deeply humanizing, that it takes people out of that transactional mentality of feeling like they're... My clients, I think, by and large, do not feel like they're trying to pull one over on me, or the way that capitalism pits us against each other is so extractive and always trying to sort of... We're always all trying to get the most for the least. I'm trying to get the most money from you for the least amount of my effort, and you're trying to get the most amount of my knowledge and expertise for the least amount of your money, right? That's the game that we're taught to play inside of capitalism.

Bear Hebert (53:43):

But when I say, "Hey, I'm going to charge you the number that's based on what I need, and if you can't do that, that's okay." It just dissolves that kind of transactional energy and then people don't screw me over. I just-

Susan Boles (53:59):

That's the fundamental philosophy of being an anti-capitalist, in general, is just a general, let's not be dicks to each other kind of philosophy. Really, that's-

Bear Hebert (54:12):


Susan Boles (54:13):

... kind of the fundamental premise behind it.

Bear Hebert (54:15):

Yes, exactly. Let's just not be dicks to each other. When I'm not a dick to my clients about money, then turns out they don't want to be a dick back to me.

Susan Boles (54:24):

I'm sure there is a much more philosophical way to go about explaining it, but that's the premise.

Bear Hebert (54:30):

That's the gist. I don't disagree.

Susan Boles (54:34):

All right. I think that is a perfect place to go ahead and wrap it up. Where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about what you do?

Bear Hebert (54:42):

Yes. My website is bearcoaches.com. That's where they can find all the information about my business consulting services and also freely the online course about pricing your work. It has three parts, one about actually how to set your rates. The second part is about accessibility structures. I go into all the back end logistics of how to set up accessible structures for pricing. Then the third one is all about money mindset and escaping scarcity mentality in a way that's not aligned with oppressive norms.

Bear Hebert (55:18):

Then I'm on Instagram, and that's my main social media hub. I have a lot of video content there. If you like hearing me talk, you can hear a whole lot more of me talking about my Instagram.

Susan Boles (55:31):


Bear Hebert (55:32):

My Instagram handle is just my name. So, @bearhebert_ with an underscore at the end of it.

Susan Boles (55:37):

Cool. Thank you so much for being here. This was such an interesting, and I think, at least for me, a super valuable conversation.

Bear Hebert (55:44):

Yeah, thanks so much for having me, it was super fun to get to come and talk with you today.

Susan Boles (55:49):

I love the concept of equating anti-capitalist movements to the core idea of, let's just not be dicks to each other. Money is just a tool, it can be used to create amazing good and it can also be used as an excuse to subjugate or justify unethical behavior. But in the end, it's just a tool, and a made up one at that. Money has the value we attach to it, but no inherent value. Maybe we can start thinking about money as a tool to be kind to each other, to support one another, and to help create the change we want to see in the world.

Susan Boles (56:27):

If you want to go a little bit deeper on money mindset, or just join a conversation about money and business with some other business owners, come join me at the Dollars + Decisions Roundtable on January 14th at 2:00 PM Eastern. You can sign up at scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions or just click the link in the show notes.

Susan Boles (56:48):

Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our executive producer is Sean McMillan. Our production coordinator is Lou Blaser. This episode was edited by Marty Seifeld with production assistance by Kristin Runvik.